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, 19818:30 PM
- Rick Merrill leaves The Ark Restaurant.
- Dori Colyer concludes her shift at Fat Boys Restaurant.
MAY 9, 19811 AM
- Rick Merril and Dori Colyer leave the Hilltop Lounge in Brooksville, telling friends they will be back in half an hour.
- 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, 1981NOON
- Rick Merrill’s parents receive a call to release his dental records to aid in body identification.
- Brooksville Police Department delivers dental records to a forensic dentist in Tampa.
- Investigators meet with the families for the first time.
MAY 13, 19811 PM
- memorial services held for Rick Merrill.
- State Fire Marshal investigator responds to Brooksville to examine Merrill’s vehicle.
MAY 14, 1981AFTERNOON
- 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, 20189:30 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.
- 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.
- 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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