Can you help close this ice-cold case?

Crimeline reconstructed from available newspaper articles.

  • MAY 7, 1981
    • Rick Merrill’s parents return from California, giving Rick a gold chain with a gold sand dollar medallion.
  • MAY 8, 1981
    8:30 PM
    • Rick Merrill leaves The Ark Restaurant.
    10:30 PM
    • Dori Colyer concludes her shift at Fat Boys Restaurant.

  • MAY 9, 1981
    1 AM
    • Rick Merril and Dori Colyer leave the Hilltop Lounge in Brooksville, telling friends they will be back in half an hour.

    2:30 AM
    • A passing tow truck operator observes a fire near an abandoned structure in the 300 block of Stafford Avenue in Brooksville. Fire personnel are dispatched to a “brush fire.” Upon extinguishing the blaze, the charred bodies of Rick Merrill and Dori Colyer are discovered.

  • MAY 12, 1981
    • Rick Merrill’s parents receive a call to release his dental records to aid in body identification.

    3 PM
    • Brooksville Police Department delivers dental records to a forensic dentist in Tampa.

    • Investigators meet with the families for the first time.
  • MAY 13, 1981
    1 PM
    • memorial services held for Rick Merrill.

    • State Fire Marshal investigator responds to Brooksville to examine Merrill’s vehicle.
  • MAY 14, 1981
    • investigators meet with Merrill and Colyer families for three hours.
  • MAY 15, 1981
    • Brooksville Police confirm the identities of Ricky Merrill and Dori Colyer as the murder victims.
  • MAY 18, 2018
    9:30 AM
    • Forensic dentist in Tampa positively identifies the body of Rick Merrill through dental records.

    • Dori Colyer’s body is identified through blood type and jewelry found at the crime scene.
  • AUGUST 1, 1981
    • Deaths declared homicide by the Medical Examiner’s Office.
    • Brooksville Police states there are four suspects in the murders, stating they “may have worked together to start the fire."
    • Autopsy report states Rick Merrill and Dori Colyer died from smoke inhalation, breathing air so hot it seared their lungs.
  • JANUARY 1983
    • Lead investigator and newly-appointed Brooksville Police Chief Bob Johnson declines to comment when asked if he agrees with prosecutors assessment that there isn’t enough evidence to make an arrest.
  • 2018
    • Brooksville Police Department disbands June 1, law enforcement services in town are now handled by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
    • Thirty seven years later, justice still eludes the memories of Rick Merrill and Dori Colyer.
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