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October 18, 2002

Residents stunned by killing across from SAHS

From: St. Augustine Record, FL
Oct. 18, 2002

Staff Writer

As authorities investigate the death of a deaf woman who lived near St. Augustine High School, nearby residents question how the killing could have happened in their neighborhood.

Carmen Maria Reyes, 26, 419 Del Monte Drive, was found dead in her house Thursday morning by a family member, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. The homicide investigation is ongoing.

"Whoever did that is just evil," said Suzette Gardner, whose mother Erma Jean Curlee lives nearby on Del Rio Drive.

Curlee said she learned of the incident when a deputy knocked on her door Thursday morning to see if she had heard anything the night before. She hadn't.

Curlee, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1960, and Gardner said nothing like this has ever happened before. Neither of them knew Reyes.

"I cannot even believe someone would get killed around here," Gardner said. "This has always been a safe neighborhood."

The scene of the crime is a house across the street from St. Augustine High School.

"We're working around the clock to keep that area secure and safe as best we can," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Kelshaw.

The Sheriff's Office stepped up patrols in the area and is asking people to report any suspicious activity -- no matter how insignificant it seems, he said. Call 824-8304.

"We're following up on leads, we're following up on obtaining evidence," Kelshaw said.

No suspects have been identified, and the details about the cause of death are not being released, he said. The medical examiner is conducting the autopsy.

Other violent crimes have recently been reported in the neighborhood.

A woman fell victim to a strong-armed robbery at nearby Woodcrest Apartments Wednesday night, but authorities don't know if the incident is related to Reyes' death, said St. Augustine Police Chief David Shoar.

The police department is working with the Sheriff's Office to find out if there is a relationship, he said.

A man in the neighborhood was stabbed last week, but the alleged assailant is still in the County Jail, according to the jail.

© Copyright 2002 The St. Augustine Record