Palm print could lead police to killer of teen in Florida on spring break

by: Lorena Inclan, Action News Jax Updated:

PODCAST: Project Cold Case: Carol Ann Barrett
ITUNES: Subscribe to Action News Jax - Project: Cold Case

Execution style. That’s how investigators say Carol Ann Barrett, 18, was murdered in 1980.

Her body was found off the side of the interstate near Jacksonville International Airport.

Her case has gone unsolved for more than three decades. Now, new technology could bring answers.

Barrett, who was originally from Ohio, had always wanted to visit Florida, but no one imagined it was also the place where her life would be taken in such a violent way.

Years later, her family is still grieving and terrified the killer could still target them. The fear is so intense, they did not want to be interviewed for this story.

Photos of Barrett show a bright-eyed, smiling teenager.

For most people her age, spring break is a big deal -- especially in the 1970s and 1980s -- and she had her sights set on one Daytona Beach, one of the most popular spring break destinations in the world.

She finally got the chance in March 1980.

Barrett and a group of eight other friends were staying at the now defunct Treasure Island Inn in  Daytona Beach Shores.

According to a small newspaper clipping of the St. Petersburg Times, she was outside their room with a friend when a man approached them.

JSO Cold Case Supervisor Sgt. Dan Janson is taking another look at the case.

“There were seven individuals in the hotel room at the time (and the assailant) enters into the room. He has them do some things at gunpoint,” Janson said.

Janson said after the suspect robbed the group, he took Barrett.

“She was abducted from that location," Janson said. "Her body was found here in Duval County."

Her half-naked body was found in a ditch near I-95 and mile marker 365, not far from the airport.

“To me it almost looks as if she was executed," Janson said. "[It's] not that there was a big struggle or anything like that. It looked more like an execution to me." 

Thirty-seven years later, Janson said there’s evidence in the case that could spark a lead.

“In this case ,there happens to be an unresolved palm print,” said Janson.

It's critical evidence that still needs to get tested, -- technology that was not available in 1980.

“I have an unresolved palm print I solved a 43-year-old case with that same thing,” said Janson.

Police released a sketch of the suspect released soon after her body was found. Janson said it remains a strong clue today.

The suspect has a distinctive feature -- a mole on his left cheek. Janson said it’s likely Barrett wasn’t his only victim.

“To enter into a hotel room where there are seven individuals not knowing to what level of confrontation you're going to be met with even though you do have a gun ... is pretty brazen,” said Janson.

Barrett’s case has been featured on ProjectColdCase.org and a Crimestoppers playing card distributed to inmates in the hopes of generating leads.

The suspect is described as having reddish hair, beard and a mustache, a mole on his left cheek and wearing wire-rimmed glasses.

Barrett’s parents have since passed away. Her sister said she wants to see this case solved in memory of her parents and so that Barrett’s soul can finally rest in peace.

Janson said he’s already tracked down the original latent print examiner. He’s also working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Daytona Beach Shores Police Department to try to solve this case. 

Next Up: