[PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook / Melissa Marie]
[Original Publish Date: 03/23/21]
TAVARES, Florida — “Somebody knows something.”
Amy Harris wants justice.
Harris’ younger sister, Melissa Nease, 29, was found murdered in her secluded Ocklawaha home in Marion County the afternoon of Feb. 28, by a family friend, Harris told Lake Legal News Monday.
Nease, a 2010 graduate of Tavares High School, was home alone while her boyfriend and three children were out of town when she was shot and killed by two unknown individuals. Marion County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case. MCSO has released very little information in the young mom’s murder; a small clip of a surveillance video from Nease’ home the day of her murder was released March 11, but there has not been any new information since.
“Unfortunately, we do not have any new information to give out. Detectives are following up on any and all leads that have come in on this case,” MCSO Public Information Officer Sgt. Paul Bloom told LLN in an email.
Nease did have cameras with flood lights outside her home, Harris said. The video released by MCSO shows a man in a hoodie, skull cap and mask running from the home and tripping over a chair. At one point the masked man looks directly into the camera. The flood lights may distort the person’s image, but Harris believes someone knows who he is and is urging them to come forward.
Harris told LLN the house her sister shared with her boyfriend, Jeremy “Shane” Jenkins at 68 Guava Pass Drive was very secluded, and only has two neighboring houses, one of which is empty. Jenkins is offering a $20,000 reward in the case, Harris said.
The intruders entered and left through the back of the home and Harris finds it strange that the family dogs— one a pit bull— did not deter them from entering her sister’s home. The dogs were crated, but Harris believes the barking alone would have deterred most people.
“You had to know this house to be able to get into it,” Harris said. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere.”
Harris, who went to and graduated college with her little sister, cannot understand why someone would murder her. “It’s not adding up,” she said Monday, more than three weeks after the senseless murder. Since nearly a month has passed already, Harris is concerned the case may become cold. “I refuse to let that happen,” she said. Harris described her sister as “prissy, funny and bubbly” and a “spitfire.” Nease had a heart of gold she said, and “loved and trusted everybody.” “If I could say anything about my sister— she was meant to be a mom,” Harris said. “Three babies are without their mother.” Nease had two daughters, ages 10 and 2 and an 8-year-old son. Nease was always working on school projects with her kids and Harris’ kids, as well. “She was the PTA [type] mom,” Harris fondly says of her sister.
Harris said she will not rest until her sister’s killers are caught. “I’m trying to rattle whoever did it.”
If you have information on the murder of Nease, call MCSO Det. Daniel Pinder at (352) 368-3508 or if you wish to remain anonymous, call Marion County Crime Stoppers at (352) 368-STOP (7867) and reference 21-20 in your call.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]