DELAND, FL – With another anniversary of the April 1994 murder of DeLand teenager Laralee Spear approaching, Sheriff Mike Chitwood today announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing the 15-year-old girl after she stepped off her school bus.
Laralee was abducted, shot and killed on the afternoon of April 25, 1994, near a burned-down house about a quarter-mile away from her family’s home on Deerfoot Road outside DeLand. It’s believed her killer took her shortly after she got off the bus around 3:15 p.m. at her stop at Deerfoot Road and Spring Garden Avenue.
Expecting her home as usual, Laralee’s worried mother called 911 to report her missing around 4:05 p.m. Deputies were on scene in minutes, and an Air One pilot spotted her body near the abandoned structure around 5:35 p.m.
For almost 27 years, the case has remained unsolved despite sustained efforts of sheriff’s investigators and detectives. Recently, Sheriff Chitwood and the Major Case Unit met again with members of the FBI to discuss any new technology or techniques that could be used to pursue a new break in the case.
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The single biggest break, however, may come from someone who can give detectives a new piece of information, even a small detail.
“No family deserves to experience what Laralee’s family has been through for all these years,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “If anyone out there has information that could help bring this innocent girl’s killer or killers to justice, now is the time to clear your conscience and come forward.”
In conjunction with the $50,000 reward, the Sheriff’s Office is releasing a video this week in the hopes of generating interest in the case. Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact the Major Case Unit via email at ColdCaseUnitTips@vcso.us or 386-254-1537.