Tag Archives: Community

Eyes on the road

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following for the week of Aug. 12:

  • Longboat Pass Bridge: Major repairs on the Longboat Pass Bridge on Gulf Drive between Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key take place through the summer. Overnight work requires decreasing lane sizes, flagging operations and occasional lane closures. Also, the DOT cautioned boaters to watch for equipment in the water. Work will end in September.
  • State Road 684/Cortez Road: Crews are installing new lighting at various locations along State Road 684/Cortez Road from Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach to Ninth Street West in Bradenton. Expect nighttime/overnight lane closures. PowerCore Inc. is the contractor.

For the latest road watch information, go online to fl511.com and swflroads.com or dial 511.

        To view traffic conditions, go online to smarttrafficinfo.org.

 

Bradenton Beach agency offers to fund beautification projects

Money is available for beautification projects in the Bradenton Beach community redevelopment district.

At an Aug. 7 meeting of the city community redevelopment agency, members voted 7-0 for a resolution establishing a grant program for business or residential property owners and tenants in the district to apply for up to $4,000 toward enhancing the appearance of their property.

The CRA promotes restoration, growth and tourism for the district — bordered by Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico — by funding capital improvement projects with incremental tax revenue from Manatee County after the area was declared blighted in 1992.

The CRA includes the mayor, city commissioners and two appointed members, restaurateur Ed Chiles and David Bell, a full-time resident of the district.

CRA Chair Ralph Cole, a commissioner, said the grant program allows the agency to incentivize improvement on a residential and commercial level in its next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Treasurer Shayne Thompson said the CRA has a $20,000 fund to draw from for the grants.

The resolution establishes grant funding for exterior improvements, including landscaping, public rights of way adjacent to a private development, signage, decorative facades, painting, murals and public art, front porch, as well as work to comply with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

The CRA exempted national franchises and properties from the grant program that do not pay property taxes.

The resolution also prohibits grant funds from being spent on temporary fixtures, structural foundations, interior improvements and security systems.

To be considered, people must submit to the CRA the application form, a copy of the property deed or lease, a description of the property and project, project budget, preliminary work schedule, photos of existing conditions and surroundings, site plan or survey, and, if applicable, a preliminary landscaping plan.

Applicants who are tenants also must submit signed and notarized authorization for the improvements from their landlord.

In order to receive reimbursement, approved applicants must submit to the CRA invoices from a contractor or vendor for the work and proof of payment. Cash payments may not be reimbursed if the CRA cannot verify the payment was made.

Additionally, CRA staff must conduct site visits confirming improvements have been completed before reimbursement payments are made.

Cole said the building department should administer the grant program since improvement work may require a construction permit. He added the CRA should waive application fees for people who meet with building official Steve Gilbert to apply.

Illuminating Florida’s ‘flagship’ Sunshine Skyway Bridge

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An image taken from a Florida Department of Transportation video shows “elegant” lighting on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, part of a $15 million project to outfit the bridge profile and underside columns with color changeable, high-efficiency LED fixtures. The DOT expects to complete the project this fall. The Skyway, visible from Anna Maria Island, is Florida’s “flagship bridge,” according to the DOT. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOT

When the sun sets west of Anna Maria Island, “sunset” lights will shine to the east on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The state transportation department is outfitting Florida’s flagship bridge — visible from many locations on AMI’s north end and bayfront vistas — with 1,824 LED fixtures.

The bridge across Tampa Bay on Interstate 275 has long been outfitted with lights shining upward on the yellow cables, but the new fixtures are high-efficiency and color changeable and they will light the underside of the bridge and pilings.

In addition to “sunset” colors, the lights will change to “new year,” “verdant green,” “waves,” “gateway” “patriotic,” “purple majestic” and “elegant.”

An example of “verdant green” LED lighting on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay on Interstate 275. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOT

The DOT is installing the fixtures — varying between 48 and 205 watts — on the bridge profile and underside columns.

The lighted section of the bridge will include the slopes and main span for a total of 8,860 feet — or 1.7 miles.

Profile lights along the main span and high-level approaches are being mounted on brackets.

As for the columns, they will be illuminated by floodlighting fixtures mounted to the underside of the deck and box girders, washing along the height of each column and fading near the waterline, according to DOT spokeswoman Kristen Carson.

An example of how “Patriotic” lighting will look on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOT

“The Skyway is the gateway to Tampa Bay and the flagship bridge of Florida,” read an outline for the project provided Aug. 1 by Carson. “The Skyway lighting project is a unique enhancement, unlike any other in the world. The project will stand for the Tampa Bay region as an inspiration for residents and all who visit.”

Many newer bridges in the state feature aesthetic lighting, including the Pensacola Bay Bridge, the Fuller Warren Bridge and Main Street bridges in Jacksonville, Hathaway Bridge in Panama City, 17th Street Bridge in Miami, five bridges crossing the Hillsborough River in Tampa and the John Ringling Causeway Bridge in Sarasota.

The Skyway Bridge lighting promises aesthetic value, but also will add safety and security to the underside of the bridge, which is dark now, according to Carson’s outline.

Tolls collected on the Skyway paid for the project, expected to cost about $15 million.

The DOT says the project will be completed this fall.

 

Judge defers ruling in three Holmes Beach-Bert Harris cases

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12th Circuit Judge Charles Sniffin, left, holds an off-the-record discussion with attorneys for the city of Holmes Beach and attorneys for the property owners suing the city under the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

One court ruling was pushed down the road.

A 12th Circuit judge put his decision on hold after attorneys sparred over a consolidated pretrial motion in three Holmes Beach cases over the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act.

Representing three property owners, Aaron Thomas, of the Najmy Thompson law firm in Bradenton, argued July 30 the city of Holmes Beach “knew what it was getting into” when it failed to offer changes in the allowable uses or settlements for his clients’ claims.

Since 2016, more than 80 property owners invoked the Bert Harris law against Holmes Beach by filing claims at city hall, and 11 lawsuits — eight represented by the Najmy firm — sprung from the claims.

Thomas asked Judge Charles Sniffin to enter judgments finding the city liable under the act that allows landowners to seek the loss of fair market value due to unfair government actions.

Sniffin told Thomas he wasn’t denying his motion, but rather allowing the parties time for discovery and to append their arguments after depositions, inspections and other discovery.

“The case law is very clear that the court commits irreversible error if it grants summary judgment when discovery is outstanding,” Sniffin said.

He deferred ruling for 90 days.

Under the act, the city was required to respond to claimants within 150 days of the filings.

In response to each claim, the city sent a letter suggesting no settlement or compromise to the then-new 2015-16 rental laws, enacted by the city after residents complained of parking, noise, garbage and other quality-of-life issues.

Thomas argued his clients were eligible to recover under Bert Harris when the city enacted a May 1, 2016, regulatory scheme to enforce a Sept. 8, 2015, two-person per bedroom ordinance.

He also disputed the city’s defenses, including a statute of limitations running from the September 2015 enactment and appraisals, saying the judge could rule on such legal questions.

Thomas said his clients lost investment expectations, including:

  • Brian Wien rented his five-bedroom rental home at 111 81st St. to at least 12 occupants until the law restricted him to 10.
  • 307 66th LLC and Robert and Michelle Carl rented their six-bedroom units at 118 50th St. and 307 66th to at least 16 guests, respectively, until the law restricted them to no more than 12 guests.

Thomas argued the city inordinately burdened his clients for three-four years.

Jay Daigneault, the city’s attorney, argued back.

He called the plaintiffs’ motion premature due to “an undeveloped record,” saying the exchange of documents, depositions and inspections is incomplete.

Daigneault also argued the owners failed to make a formal denial.

He also pointed to the city’s two-person per bedroom restriction in the comprehensive plan.

Thomas countered the comp plan isn’t a local ordinance or regulation contemplated by Bert Harris.

As far as pre-suit requirements, Thomas said the plaintiffs should be able to invoke the “futility exception” based on takings, since the city had no means to grant a variance under its rental laws.

Addressing the not-yet-completed exchange of records, Thomas said many items sought by the city are not relevant, such as names of hundreds of renters, insurance policies and detailed financial information.

Daigneault argued a host of issues surround the owners’ claims, such as how the law was applied to the properties and the plaintiffs’ claims on bedrooms.

Daigneault estimated the parties would need four-six months to complete discovery.

After hearing the arguments, the judge singled out the issue of discovery and agreed to allow time for completion, “but not four-six months.”

Anna Maria faces ADA compliance issue on new pier

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An archival photograph, circa 1924, of the Anna Maria City Pier shows railings, which former Anna Maria City Commissioner Gene Aubry says should be installed on the new pier. Islander File Photo

Former Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry protested at city hall, and then made a complaint in July based on what he said is a deficient design for the new Anna Maria City Pier.

Aubry, who also is an architect, filed a U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act complaint based on the design and plans for the new Anna Maria City Pier walkway and T-end that lack handrails.

The ADA was put into law in 1990 to alleviate discrimination based on disability. The purpose of the act is to give people with disabilities equal rights and opportunities in public life, including, jobs, schools, transportation and any public or private places open to the general public.

The ADA includes building code requirements, which Aubry said the city will not meet if it constructs the new pier as planned.

Aubry filed his complaint July 15 with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., writing the city is discriminating against the disabled by refusing to install a handrail along the pier walkway.

“It’s not safe walking on a pier over water without a railing, especially if you’re blind,” Aubry said July 31 in an interview with The Islander.

Aubry points to photos of the pier dating back to 1924 that depict a handrail. The pier was originally built in 1911 to promote tourism to the city.

He says that if the city wants to replicate the original pier — and provide safety for people who want to enjoy the amenities — it should have a handrail.

He initially presented his concern about the lack of handrails on the pier in January to the city commission and mayor. But, he said, city officials did not give him a response.

At the time, Commissioner Brian Seymour told The Islander the city officials heard Aubry’s concern, but most of the public was against a railing.

Mayor Dan Murphy told The Islander Aug. 1 that the city has followed government guidelines for construction, including ADA regulations.

The pier also is a boat landing, permitting boats to dock and tie-off. And, according to ADA regulations, boat landings do not require handrails, according to Murphy.

Aubry told The Islander he would not consider other action until after the ADA processed his complaint.

As of Aug. 2, The Islander was unable to reach the DOJ with regard to Aubry’s ADA complaint.

Resort corrects ‘unfriendly’ sea turtle lighting

Nesting sea turtle numbers on Anna Maria Island continue to rise each year.

The increase in nests is due to increased education and better sea turtle-friendly lighting practices, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, Suzi Fox.

But lights visible from the shoreline can disorient hatchlings away from their journey to the Gulf, leading to death from dehydration, exhaustion or predation.

“Unfriendly turtle lights” at the Anna Maria Beach Resort, 6306 Gulf Drive, formerly the Blue Water Beach Club, were the apparent cause of disorientations over the July 4 holiday.

Fox wrote the lights were still out of compliance in a July 25 email to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.

As of Aug. 4, there were 507 nests on the island, compared with 504 on the same date in 2018.

Sea turtles nest here “because the beaches are dark at night,” Fox said. “If we want them to keep coming back, we have to make sure it stays that way.”

As of Aug. 4, 96 nests had hatched, with 411 remaining on island beaches.

When sea turtles hatch, they are drawn by their instincts to the reflection of the stars on the Gulf of Mexico, and from now through October, hatchlings are emerging from nests in the sand by the thousands.

At a July 31 code violation hearing, attorney Michael Connolly, Holmes Beach special magistrate, granted a continuance of a hearing for the corporate owner, Blue Water Resort AMI LLC, on two possible violations, including one concerning turtle-friendly lighting.

Attorney Aaron Thomas, representing the owner, asked that the case be continued pending compliance.

Thomas said the problem lights were replaced with turtle-friendly bulbs July 29, which was confirmed by Holmes Beach code compliance supervisor JT Thomas.

Connolly continued the case to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Fox said July 31 she is concerned some lights in the stairwell are still visible from the beach and should be changed out for amber-colored Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-approved bulbs. She spoke July 31 with resort representative Allen Pullen, who said the resort is willing to work with Fox to ensure the property is turtle-friendly.

“They said they were willing to go the extra mile,” Fox said.

She said grant money from the Sea Turtle Conservancy helps with the cost of the bulbs.

She also said garage lights at the resort’s neighbor to the north, La Plage, 6424 Gulf Drive, as well as several properties in Bradenton Beach, need amber bulbs.

“We just need to get them set up and get those lights changed out,” Fox said. “We are almost there and the island is looking good — for people and sea turtles.”

AM city pier contractor runs up on design flaw

Yes, Anna Maria, we have a problem.

Five utility conduits that fail to meet code on the new Anna Maria City Pier must be relocated.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy told The Islander Aug. 1 about a design error that is resulting in a change and relocation of the electrical conduits — at no cost to the city.

The design firm, Ayres Associates, will cover any expense due to the error.

Also, Murphy said the relocation of the conduits by the electrical contractor would not delay construction on the pier, and i+iconSOUTHEAST still is on track to finish the pier’s walkway and T-end in September.

The next stage in the project involves the construction of the shell structures for the restaurant, bait shop and restrooms on the T-end, which Murphy said will be completed by late December or early January by Holmes Beach-based contractor Mason Martin.

Murphy estimated Aug. 1 work on the restaurant-bait shop would begin within the next 30 days. Mason Martin is contracted to finish the building within 200 days, putting the deadline at Feb. 10, 2020.

Still to be resolved is the contract with the leaseholder of the pier, Mario Schoenfelder, according to the mayor.

Murphy said the city is negotiating with Schoenfelder on the terms of a new lease and city commissioners are engaged in the process.

When completed, the replacement pier is estimated to cost $5.9 million, including demolition and construction.

Child rescued from pool in Anna Maria

Deputies responding to a call for a lost child, quickly learned the 3-year-old had been found in a swimming pool.

The toddler was expected to make a full recovery after being found in the pool at about 5 p.m. July 28 in the 11000 block of Gulf Drive in Anna Maria.

The family, vacationing from Tampa, first called 911 to report they had lost track of a child.

First on the scene was Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Desch, who arrived to see the father holding the child — conscious, crying and coughing — according to the MCSO report.

Josiah M. Argote, 3, was quickly cared for by medical personnel at the scene.

According to Desch’s report, medics feared Josiah was at risk for “dry drowning,” which can cause a spasm and closure of the airway.

From Anna Maria, he was taken by ambulance to city field in Holmes Beach for transport by medical helicopter to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and transferred to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, also in St. Petersburg, according to Rodney Kwiatkowski, an inspector and information officer with West Manatee Fire Rescue.

Josiah’s mother accompanied her son on the flight to the hospital, Kwiatkowski said in an Aug. 2 text to The Islander.

“We are pleased to report, the last we heard, the child is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, he said.

His father performed CPR before help arrived, according to the WMFR report.

As for safety precautions, Desch reported the pool has a gated 6-foot fence.

Heads in beds generate $1.6M in tourist tax in June

Overnight stays in Manatee County generated more than $1.6 million in bed taxes in June.

The county bed tax of 5%, also known as the tourist development tax, is collected on overnight rentals of less than six months.

The Manatee County Tax Collector’s office released on Aug. 1 the tourist development tax collection numbers for June, the most recent month available.

They showed $12,937,076 collected between the beginning of the fiscal year, October 2018, and June.

In June, the total tax collected was $1,653,009, up from the $1,527,732 in June 2018.

About 26.71% of the tax collected, $441,504, was generated in Holmes Beach.

The tax collected from Anna Maria in June was $291,648, about 17.64% of the total.

Bradenton Beach produced about 8.85% of the tax collected in June — $146,271.

Some more numbers for June:

  • Bradenton, $109,303, 17.64% of the collection.
  • Longboat Key, $171,063, 10.35%.
  • Palmetto, $5,809, 0.35%.
  • Unincorporated Manatee County, $487,410, 29.49%.

So far this fiscal year, which will end Sept. 30, the month for the largest tourist tax collection was March, coinciding with spring break. The county collected $2,725,570 that month.

The second-largest amount, exceeding $1.8 million, was collected in February.

The tax revenues must be used to boost and develop tourism, including funding for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Bradenton Area Convention Center and tourism-related entities such as Realize Bradenton and the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as supporting projects, such as island beach renourishment and construction of the new Anna Maria City Pier.

— Lisa Neff

39 Years Ago: Killing spree at Kingfish

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Emergency personnel respond Aug. 1, 1980, in Holmes Beach, where four people were fatally shot and one person was injured. The case remains unsolved. Islander Photo: Manatee County Public Library System
“I saw a car and boat trailer jackknifed near a power pole,” reporter June Alder wrote about her arrival to the scene of a quadruple murder Aug. 1, 1980, on Manatee Avenue at East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach. The vehicle and boat belonged to Dr. Juan Dumois, 47, of Tampa. He and his sons Eric Dumois, 13, and Mark Dumois, 9, were murdered that day, as was islander Robert Matzke, 60. Islander Photo: Manatee County Public Library System
Emergency personnel attend to a victim of a shooting Aug. 1, 1980, in Holmes Beach at the Kingfish Boat Ramp and at the Foodway grocery store, now the Publix Super Market. Islander Photo: Manatee County Public Library System
A Fiat that had been driven by Robert Matzke crashed into another vehicle at Foodway. Bystanders thought an accident had occurred, but Matzke, an Air Force veteran, had unknowingly confronted a killer and was fatally shot. Islander Photo: Manatee County Public Library System
Emergency personnel place a man on a stretcher near the Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach Aug. 1, 1980. The killings at Kingfish remain unsolved. The Manatee County Crime Stoppers takes tips at 866-634-TIPS. Islander Photo: Manatee County Public Library System
Cold case evidence Holmes Beach Detective Sgt. Brian Hall holds an evidence bag July 11 containing a 22-caliber bullet gathered Aug. 1, 1980, and still in storage at the HBPD. The bullet is evidence from the shooting at the Foodway grocery store, now the Publix Super Market, 3900 E. Bay Drive. Retired Lt. Col. Robert Matzke was working in his yard near the Kingfish Boat Ramp Aug. 1, 1980, and followed a bicyclist to Foodway, where Matzke was shot and killed by the bicyclist-turned-gunman. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
HBPD Detective Sgt. Brian Hall handles a plastic bag July 11 containing items found in the left rear seat of a station wagon driven Aug. 1, 1980, by Juan Dumois. A man killed Dumois and his two sons in the vehicle. Dumois’ brother-in-law, Raymond Barrows, seated in the front seat, survived the shooting, but died two years later. The evidence is kept in bins at the police department, 5801 Marina Drive.

For an island reporter, the story unfolded, but the mystery remained

 

Editor’s note: The Islander first published the following report in 1999. June Alder then worked as a copy editor for The Islander and also wrote a history column. The Islander edited this report for style, length and historical perspective.

 

 

By June Alder

From The Islander archive

You know how it is in the dog days of August. Not much to do. Putter around the yard in the morning. Have a nap after lunch. Watch the sunset after supper. Watch re-runs on TV with the air conditioner humming.

No, nothing much happens on the island in the summertime. It’s murder for a newspaper reporter trying to make a decent story out of notes from a boring city meeting.

But it wasn’t that way Aug. 1, 1980.

As I recall that Friday, I was the only reporter in The Islander newspaper office when someone yelled at me to pick up my phone. It was my mother calling.

“Oh, hi Mom, what’s up?” I said, or something like that. She rarely called me at the office, so I figured she had some little problem, like when we could meet for lunch.

But her voice was odd, whispery but urgent.

“I’m down here at Foodway (now the Publix Super Market). There’s been an accident or something — a man’s been hurt.”

There was a hubbub in the background.

I could barely hear her.

“What did you say? An accident? In the grocery store?”

She seemed impatient, and I got the idea whatever had happened, it was something serious.

“No, in the parking lot. I was at the checkout counter. A woman burst in, yelling to call the police, get a doctor.” She paused. “I can see a lot of folks running around outside. You’d better get down here, June!”

I grabbed my camera and jumped in my car. Traffic on Gulf Drive was light going south. It took me less than five minutes to round the bend at the Manatee Public Beach. That’s when I saw a bunch of people milling around just east of the stoplight toward Kingfish Boat Ramp.

I wondered if I should drive on to the grocery, but then I saw a car and boat trailer jackknifed near a power pole. There had been an accident and, from the looks of things, it was a bad one. I parked my car on the side of the road and raced over to a scene of chaos.

I didn’t ask any questions, just began taking photographs.

There seemed to be bodies all over the place. Sheets had been draped over two figures being lifted onto stretchers. They appeared to be children. I couldn’t tell if they were dead or alive.

A few feet away from the car, medics were bent over a man on the ground. One emergency technician was holding an oxygen mask to the man’s mouth. Another was wiping the blood from the patient’s forehead. A third was massaging his chest.

Close by lay a deeply tanned man in red-and-white striped trunks. He was barely breathing. His bare chest was streaked with blood trickling from his nose and mouth. A tube had been stuck in his right arm. I could tell by the look on the face of a woman in a nurse’s uniform holding his head that he was close to death.

I moved in a bit closer with my camera. Through the viewfinder, I could see a small hole — about the size of a dime — in the man’s forehead.

My heart froze. The man had been shot in the head.

By now, another reporter from my newspaper had arrived, as well as reporters and photographers from the daily papers.

And there must have been 40 people scurrying around. I’ll never forget the faces of the bystanders as the word got around of the nature of the tragedy. They had the look of people confronting a situation too horrible to comprehend. The car had gone out of control because the driver had a bullet in his head. Everyone in the car had been shot.

I glanced across the street toward the Foodway. An ambulance was pulling out of the lot. I hurried over. I learned from a cop that a man had been shot there, too.

By now, like everyone else, I was beginning to realize the enormity of the crime that had shattered the pleasant afternoon.

The headlines in the newspapers the next day shocked islanders out of their summer lethargy.

In the weeks and months to come, the story unfolded, but the mystery remained.

 

The killing at Kingfish

Early Aug. 1, 1980, Juan Dumois, a 47-year-old Tampa physician, his sons Eric, 13, and Mark, 9, and their uncle, Raymond Barrows, visiting from Miami, left Kingfish Boat Ramp for a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the last day of the family’s vacation in Holmes Beach.

Returning about 5 p.m., looking forward to getting home to supper, they loaded their boat onto a trailer and hitched it up to their station wagon. Dumois and Barrows got into the front seat, and the boys took seats in the back. Just as Dumois was about to drive off, a dark-haired man in his middle 30s, wearing a white tennis outfit and pushing a bike, stuck his head in the car window.

He had sprained his ankle, he told Dumois and would appreciate a lift.

Sure, no problem, Dumois said.

The man hoisted his bike into the boat and got into the back with the boys.

Dumois waited for a gap in the heavy traffic, then pulled away. The station wagon had gone only a few yards toward the intersection of Manatee Avenue and East Bay Drive when the man pulled a gun. He held the muzzle against the back of Dumois’ head and pulled the trigger.

Dumois slumped over, mortally wounded. Three more shots rang out in quick succession. The gunman had pumped the second bullet into Barrow’s head and the third and fourth into the heads of the boys.

The man reached over Dumois and turned off the ignition, steering the car to the side of the road. When it stopped, he jumped out, pulled his bike out of the boat and rode off toward Foodway.

But there was a witness.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Matzke, working in the yard of his condominium unit in Westbay Cove North, had observed the man’s exit from the accident site. Suspicious, he pursued him to the Foodway store in his sports car. There, while still in his car, he argued briefly with the bicyclist. Again, a shot rang out, and Matzke became the hitchhiker’s fifth victim.

Shoppers watched unknowingly as the gunman got into a waiting car, which disappeared into traffic. None of the onlookers had witnessed the killing. They thought Matzke had crashed his car.

All the police had to go on was what Raymond Barrows was able to tell them. He had recovered but died of a heart attack a couple of years later.

The investigation, involving the sheriff’s office and federal agents, as well as the Holmes Beach police, dragged on for months. Dumois’ car was examined for fingerprints. Four artist’s concepts of the killer were circulated and a reward was offered.

More than 100 suspects were questioned, but no solid evidence pointing to the killer was found and no plausible motive for the slayings identified.

Was the killer a madman?

Someone with a grudge against the physician?

Was he a contract killer?

Were the murders mob- or mafia-related?

Though police found nothing to connect Dumois with the underworld, the massacre had all the earmarks of a hit job.

The weapon was a 22-caliber pistol, the type of gun often used in professional killings. The killer was an expert with a gun. He did not fire wildly. He shot to kill.

The crime was well planned. The gunman was seen loitering in the boat ramp parking lot. He had marked his victims. He knew Dumois was a doctor, as he feigned an injury.

He chose a crowded area for the shootings, where he could melt into the crowd. True, it was risky business to execute his mission in a moving car, but he knew it would be going slowly, approaching the intersection only a short distance away from the boat ramp.

He had a confederate waiting in a getaway car at a spot where they could easily join the traffic going north or south.

Police were criticized for immediately directing traffic off the island and failing to cordon off the crime scene quickly. But they didn’t know at first that it was a murder case.

 

Perfect crime?

The Kingfish killings appear to have been the perfect crime — one that will never be solved.

Investigators say that in such crimes, the only chance for a solution is when someone talks — someone to whom the killer bragged or who was involved somehow in the crime.

But that hasn’t happened.

Perhaps the killer, well paid for his afternoon’s work, is living on his earnings on the French Riviera or in South America.

Or, he may have met a violent death, too.

Will we ever know his identity or the reason for the massacre on that bloody Friday?