Reward increased in year-old homicide case as investigators continue search for answers

More than a year after two men were found dead inside a burned-out sport utility vehicle in the West Augustine neighborhood, authorities are still looking for answers and making a renewed push for tips from the community.


“We are trying to get it back out there,” St. Augustine Police Detective Michal Ochkie told The Record on Wednesday. “We just need that person to come out and to give us that information to figure out who it is.”

She was standing only a few feet from where, in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2016, authorities found the bodies of Charles Ray Durden, 27, and Staffon Demarius Larry, 26, after firefighters extinguished the flames of a burning Dodge Journey at the corner Spring Street and Fred Waters Way.

Autopsies showed the men died of gunshot wounds. Authorities have yet to make an arrest in the case or even name a suspect or person of interest.

That’s why Ochkie, along with St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Detective Samantha English, were back in the neighborhood Wednesday, reminding people that the case hasn’t been forgotten.

The two, who are working the case together, were talking with news crews and going to door to door, handing out flyers about the case and asking anyone who might have heard or seen something in the neighborhood to come forward.

Taking a break from door knocking, Ochkie told reporters that she and others haven’t stopped working the case since the bodies were found. And while some members of the community have come forward, they didn’t have the information authorities needed to make an arrest.

That is hard, both for the men’s loved ones and for the investigators, she said. “We don’t like not being able to bring closure to the family.”

To help possibly bring about that closure, the flyers the two detectives were handing out said that Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida had increased its reward from $2,000 to $5,000 for information in the case.

English urged anyone who might have information, no matter how insignificant they think it might be, to come forward.

“It might be the one thing we need,” she said.

Anyone with a tip or information is asked to call either English at 209-3986 or Ochkie at 209-3485. Those who wish to remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for the cash reward can call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-8477.