Flagler County Cold Case Breakthrough: 26-Year-Old Homicide Victim Identified

Flagler County Cold Case Breakthrough: 26-Year-Old Homicide Victim Identified

After 26 years, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) has identified a previously unknown homicide victim, Robert Bruce McPhail. This significant advancement in the case was the result of combined efforts between FCSO’s Cold Case Detective Sarah Scalia and the forensic genetic genealogy experts at Othram.

McPhail’s body was discovered on September 10, 1997, floating in the Intracoastal waterway near Sea Ray Boats in Flagler Beach. He had suffered multiple gunshot and stab wounds. Despite exhaustive efforts, his identity remained a mystery until now.

Sheriff Rick Staly’s establishment of the Cold Case Unit in 2020 spurred a renewed focus on such unsolved mysteries. In 2021, the collaboration with Othram yielded this identification breakthrough. McPhail, originally from Manitoba, Canada, moved to South Florida in the mid-1990s. Known to acquaintances as “Bruce”, he was passionate about boats. A facial approximation made in 1997 gave a face to the then-unknown victim.

Commenting on the development, Sheriff Staly said, “With McPhail identified, our focus shifts to finding his murderer and bringing justice for his family.” Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, Chairman of the Florida Cold Case Advisory Commission, emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts in resolving such cases.

Authorities seek further information regarding McPhail’s life and death. Tips can be sent to TIPS@flaglersheriff.com or Cold Case Detective Scalia at SScalia@flaglersheriff.com. Anonymous tips can also be relayed to Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS, with possible rewards of up to $9,500 for valuable leads.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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