UNSOLVED FLORIDA: Family searching for answers in Wakulla County’s only unsolved homicide
WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) — Seven years after the brutal broad daylight stabbing of a Crawfordville man, his family is still searching for answers.
WCTV’s Katie Kaplan digs into the 2014 death of George “Jody” Kilgore, which remains the only unsolved homicide case in Wakulla County.
It was the Wakulla County coastline that brought Susan and George Kilgore together when they were in their early teens.
“He got my phone number from my friend and gave me a call, and we were kind of together from then on,” Susan said.
The serenity of Shell Point Beach, where their first meeting took place, was a stark contrast to the turmoil that lay ahead.
“I want whoever did this to pay for it,” said Susan, through tears.
The couple married at Wakulla Springs on April 17, 1982 and built their life on a plot of land in Crawfordville. Susan said the property was hand-picked for the old live oak that provided shade to so many memories. They spent many days clearing the property, eventually establishing a home and raising two sons, George and Chet, on it. The family enjoyed many days at the beach. Jody coached George in Wakulla Little League. Grandbabies eventually came. It was a happy life.
“He was a good man. A great dad,” said Chet.
But all of that was before the unthinkable happened.
It was just after 10 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2014. Deputies with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office were called to 55 Spring Court. There on his own driveway, lay the body of the 50-year-old father of two. The avid fisherman and master electrician had been stabbed to death in broad daylight.
“In a day, our life was changed forever,” Susan recalled.
Jody’s family said it was his best friend and business partner who lived just down the road who made the grisly discovery.
“Too close to home,” neighbor Daniel Crosby told us. “Really, we feel unsafe. I imagine everybody around here does.”
Crosby told WCTV at the time that he had overhead arguing just before 10 a.m, but had thought anything of it until law enforcement descended on the neighborhood. Detectives canvassed the area and searched the woods. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Crime Lab was brought in. Investigators spent at least two days collecting evidence, but still, seven years later, no arrests have been made..
Detectives remain tight-lipped.
“It’s being regularly worked on, but other than that I can’t comment further on what’s been going on with the case,” said WCSO spokesperson, Lieutenant Jeffrey Yarbrough.
A 2021 records request for the incident report and 911 calls were denied by the sheriff’s office, with the open investigation cited as the reason why.
The Kilgore family continues to wait and wonder.
“I’ve enjoyed life, but everything goes back to Jody... and why,” said Jody’s mother, Gladys.
Gladys said she misses her son’s love most of all. She could hardly get the words out. She has been left haunted by the tragedy.
“I go to sleep thinking of Jody. I wake up thinking of Jody and I’ll never, ever give up,” she says.
She keeps his memory alive in any way that she can- wearing her ‘Justice for Jody’ shirt, making memorial bracelets, posting ‘Reward’ signs around town. At one time or another, there has even been a billboard looming over the county. A picture of Jody, staring down at the people passing by.
A mother’s devotion to her only son is a hard will to break, even when she is tired of living the nightmare.
“I would get out in the snow if I had to,” she said. “I just wish it was over with.”
She honors his birthday with a celebration and the anniversary of his death with a vigil every single year. They used to draw dozens of people every year. Recently, attendance has dwindled.
As the sunset on what would have been Jody’s 57th birthday, WCTV caught up with Sheriff Jared Miller, who has become close with the Kilgore family.
Miller inherited the investigation when he took office in 2017 and said it was mismanaged in the beginning, but declined to elaborate on how.
“We had some cleaning up to do,” Miller said. “We have some other things that we sent off to private labs and we’re waiting on some information to come back now.”
Miller said the evidence is different than what was sent off in a similar attempt in 2019. He believes the case could be solved. It is a sentiment shared with veteran law enforcement officer William Poole.
“There’s a lot of evidence in this case,” Poole said.
Poole worked the case as a reserve deputy and private investigator for the Kilgore family. He said he spent “well over” 100 hours pouring over the case file, looking at the evidence, and generating leads. He has since retired but still keeps an eye on the case.
“I don’t like the idea that somebody’s still driving up and down the road in Wakulla County every day and thinks he’s gotten away with murder,” Poole said.
He has developed a suspect but said his theory never transpired into something the courts could use. However, he is convinced the evidence points in one direction. He declined to elaborate on his theory.
So who would want to kill Jody Kilgore?
At the time of his death, his family said he was going through a rough time- jobs had become scarce and he had some personal issues he was dealing with.
“He had quit going fishing, he had quit doing a lot of things that he loved to do,” said Robin Stevens, Jody’s oldest sister.
State records show that two years before his death, Jody had dissolved Kilgore and Gregory, LLC, the business he was so proud of. His family has been now left with many unanswered questions.
“I want to know ‘why’ more than ‘who’,” said Gladys.
Jody now rests in the family cemetery in his beloved Spring Creek and his legacy continues on in fishing records and memories.
“My brother was a comedian at heart,” Robin said with a smile. “I’m telling you, he loved to joke.”
As often happens with a sudden death, there are some regrets too.
“I wish I had told him I loved him more,” added Robin.
“I wish I had gotten my lazy butt up and gone fishing,” said Chet.
Meanwhile, the Kilgore family continues to wait for justice for Jody.
There is up to a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest for the murder of Jody Kilgore. Tips can be made anonymously through the third-party organization ‘Big Bend Crimestoppers’ at 850-574-TIPS.
Have an idea for a future ‘Unsolved?’ Email Katie at email@example.com
Also, check out previous installments of WCTV’s ‘Unsolved Florida’:
- UNSOLVED FLORIDA: Father found murdered in car on Tallahassee’s southside
- UNSOLVED FLORIDA: Who is Kelley Brannon? Pt. 1
- UNSOLVED FLORIDA: What happened to Kelley Brannon? (case detail)s - Pt. 2
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