By June Alder
From The Islander archive, circa 1999
As I recall, I was the only reporter in The Islander office when someone yelled at me to pick up my phone. It was my mother calling.
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.”
I grabbed my camera and jumped in my car. It took me less than five minutes to round the bend at the Manatee Public Beach. That’s when I saw people milling around just east near Kingfish Boat Ramp.
I saw a car and boat trailer jackknifed near a pole. I parked my car and raced over to a scene of chaos.
Sheets were draped over two figures being lifted onto stretchers. They appeared to be children.
A few feet away from the car, medics bent over a man stretched out on the ground.
Close by lay a deeply tanned man in red-and-white striped (swim) trunks. He was barely breathing. 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.
Across the street at the Foodway, an ambulance was pulling out. A man had been shot there, too.
I was beginning to realize the enormity of the crime that had shattered the pleasant afternoon.
Early Aug. 1, 1980, Juan Dumois, a Tampa physician, his sons Eric, 13, and Mark, 9, and their uncle, Raymond Barrows, vacationing from Miami, left the boat ramp for a fishing trip.
Returning about 5 p.m., they loaded their boat onto a trailer that was hitched 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 man stuck his head in the car window. He had sprained his ankle and asked for a lift.
The man hoisted his bike into the boat and got into the back with the boys before Dumois pulled away. The station wagon had gone only a few yards when the man pulled a gun. He shot Dumois, then Barrows, then the boys.
The man turned off the ignition, steered the car to the side of the road and then rode his bike toward Foodway.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Matzke, working in the yard at his Westbay Cove North condo, had observed the man leaving what appeared to be a crash.
He pursued him to the Foodway in his sports car. There, Matzke argued with the bicyclist. Again, a shot rang out, and Matzke became the hitchhiker’s fifth victim.
Shoppers were unaware as the gunman got into a waiting car that disappeared into traffic.
All the police had to go on was what Barrows was able to tell them. He had recovered, but died of a heart attack a couple of years later.
The investigation dragged on for months. artist’s conceptions of the killer were circulated, a reward was offered and more than 100 suspects were questioned, but no solid evidence pointed to a killer.
Was he a contract killer?
He shot to kill and had a confederate waiting in a getaway car.
Investigators over the years have said the only chance for a solution is that someone will talk.
Will we ever know the killer’s identity or the reason for the massacre on that bloody Friday?
Editor’s note: This story about the slaying of four people in Holmes Beach on Aug. 1, 1980, published in The Islander in 1999. June Alder worked for both papers, the old and new Islanders, including the time when the murders occurred.
ANNA MARIA – Make way for sea turtles in Anna Maria Island.
Nesting may have slowed, but hatchlings are springing forth from the sand.
As of July 5, five nests had hatched on island beaches.
Female loggerhead sea turtles will still crawl ashore to nest — at least through July — so people must be careful, according to Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director.
“We’ve had about two dozen adult disorientations this season,” Fox said.
Turtle watch reported nine such disorientations in 2019 and one in 2018.
Mature female sea turtles mostly nest at night and only leave the water to nest. So any distraction on land, including lighting visible to sea turtles on their path to nest and people who come too close, could lead to a failed nesting attempt or endanger the turtle.
Fox said June 30 that her day began with a call for help from turtle watch volunteers who came upon a loggerhead, which had nested and entered the back gate to a building on the beachfront at the Coquina Beach Club, 1906 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.
The turtle should have crawled directly back to the Gulf of Mexico.
Fox said the turtle looped the area and eventually made its way back through the gates and into the Gulf without assistance, as AMITW volunteers observed.
“They do have some lights on the roof over the stairwells that are not turtle-friendly,” Fox said of the resort. “So I suspect she couldn’t figure out how to get back to sea.”
She said she was working with the resort to resolve any problem areas.
AMITW and code compliance in Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach conduct lighting inspections May-October to ensure that lights visible from the water’s edge are sea turtle-friendly, and help correct those that are not.
This means the use of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-approved bulbs in outdoor fixtures, low to the ground and shielded, and indoor lights, including TVs, are either turned off or blocked from view on the beach by curtains or blinds.
Following the call June 30, Fox continued her morning nest survey and observed tracks heading north to south along the beach. The crawl ended at a large human-made hole in the sand where she found the trapped loggerhead, which had not nested.
A beachgoer, Kevin Breheny, and AMITW volunteer Skip Coyne created a ramp in the sand to free the turtle from the deep hole.
“We know people are out here having fun, but they need to take responsibility to fill in these holes and clean up after themselves at the end of the day,” Fox said.
She also shared concerns about people walking near nesting sea turtles and taking photos, as well as shooting brightly lit video with cellphones.
FWC regulations require people stay 100 feet from any sea turtle and, while nesting, remain quiet and not use lights, including cellphone lighting.
“If people are going to explore the beach at night, when the turtles are active, they must learn to stand back and let them be,” she said. “Especially as nests start hatching.”
Fox said AMITW is working on a public service video on digging holes and turtle-friendly beach practices to be posted to their website at islandturtlewatch.com and posted to its Facebook page.
“We are hoping this video really gets the word out about beach behavior during nesting season,” Fox said.
For more information
For more information about Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, people can visit the AMITW website or contact Fox at 941-778-5638 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles or birds to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922, #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone or text email@example.com.
Anna Maria — Renewed.
It took nearly two years for the new pier to welcome people to the boards.
At long last, the new Anna Maria City Pier opened June 19 to sightseers and anglers.
The pier at the east end of Pine Avenue in Anna Maria was built to replace the historic pier, which opened in 1911 but was removed by the city after damage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
An initial crowd of about 50 people made its way down the walkway to the T-end June 19, where Mayor Dan Murphy and Commissioners Carol Carter and Amy Tripp were waiting to greet visitors.
Due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, the city postponed a ribbon-cutting event in lieu of a “soft opening,” but officials plan to hold a celebration honoring those who contributed to the pier, according to Murphy.
“I’m very happy with how it went,” Murphy said of the opening. “It was a really nice crowd with lots of families. And that made me feel good.”
Tripp also said she enjoyed seeing families on the pier.
“So many people said they missed the pier and how happy they were it was open again,” she said. “Seeing all the families with kids was great. I feel like it will really be a community-connector,”
Carter estimated 3,000-4,000 people visited the pier June 19.
“I loved seeing many residents of the island and Manatee County, who had so looked forward to being able to walk out on the pier,” she said. “For many months they’ve been anticipating this as they’ve been watching things develop.”
Anna Maria resident Skip Roach, his wife Marie and granddaughter Catherine were among the first people on the pier when it opened.
“I’ve been coming out here every day at sunrise,” Roach said. “I was heartbroken when it was damaged. But here we are today. And it is beautiful.”
AM officials preview pier
Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law limits when two or more officials on the same board can gather for discussions.
On June 19, as members of the public were held back at the gate to the new Anna Maria City Pier, Mayor Dan Murphy and Commissioners Carol Carter and Amy Tripp were observed on the T-end of the pier prior to the 8 a.m. opening.
Murphy and Carter each told The Islander in separate phone calls after the pier opening that they arrived early to set up tables, check the bathrooms and ensure masks were available for the public.
There was no ribbon-cutting, speaker, refreshments or entertainment at the opening.
Tripp said she too arrived before the gates opened and that she and Carter chatted about their families while awaiting the crowd. Carter concurred.
The mayor and commissioners each told The Islander that no city business was discussed.
Per state regulations, the event notice posted on the bulletin board at city hall in advance of June 19, stated, “There may be one or more commissioners, committee members, or board members on the city pier at one time during the opening of the city pier, June 19-21, 2020. There will be no city business conducted at this time.”
The notice was not posted to the city website nor was it provided to The Islander until after the meeting.
And many times, in many Sunshine Law training sessions, all who attended have heard the attorneys and others who conduct the mandatory training, advising officials of elected and appointed boards to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
— ChrisAnn Allen