UPDATE, (7:04 p.m.) A Duval County judge denied bond on Wednesday for Ronnie Hyde, 60, who has been charged in the death and dismemberment of Nassau County teen Fred Laster.
Twenty-three years after the killing, the suspect in the case faced a judge for the first time.
Hyde was wearing a red jumpsuit which indicates a high risk inmate. He will likely hire an attorney of his own.
Andrew Sturm was at the hearing to support him. He said Hyde is his friend and counselor.
“We recommended him to my mom and my nephew who he sees and he’s done nothing but great in my life,” said Sturm.
Sturm said he met Hyde through Crosswater Community Church.
According to Sturm, Hyde counseled his 13-year-old nephew and while he doesn’t suspect Hyde harmed him, he said he still called the FBI after learning of his arrest.
“Per my nephew’s own words, no one put words in my nephew’s mouth, Ron never did anything at all inappropriate, Ron never touched him at all,” said Sturm.
In court, Hyde tried speaking with the judge but the judge stopped him saying it was not the time to speak about his case.
Sturm said this is not the Hyde he knows.
“Ron is an extremely intelligent person, very much a loner he likes to play his guitar. He would play at county festivals and stuff like that,” said Sturm.
Hyde is due back in court on March 29.
UPDATE (2:51 p.m.) Ronnie Hyde is seated for his court appearance. He was denied bond. The judge declared Hyde "solvent" and was not assigned a public defender to represent him.
UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): The family of murdered teen Fred Laster issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:
“We, the immediate family of Fred Paul Laster, have gathered together at this time to support each other as we experience the intense emotions caused by the heartbreaking loss of “Freddy” and the arrest of his killer.
“We appreciate the thoughts and prayers of the community, and wish to thank our law enforcement personnel and support agencies for their diligence and perseverance in this case.
“Although some extended family has chosen to make statements to the media, we, his father and siblings, decline to be interviewed at this time. We request privacy as we grieve and focus on laying Freddy to rest. Thank you for your understanding.”
The man accused of murdering and dismembering a 16-year-old found dead behind a Columbia County dumpster in 1994 will appear in court on Wednesday.
Court records show family of 16-year-old Fred Laster was suspicious of Ronnie Hyde immediately after Laster's disappearance.
Laster and Hyde were family friends beginning in the 1980s, according to court documents.
Laster's family says they met Hyde at the Strength for Living church.
He was a youth pastor and Laster and his sister stayed with Hyde at his house from time to time.
In 1993, approximately one year before Laster's disappearance, Laster's sister said she and her brother spent the night at Hyde's house in Jacksonville Beach.
She said she woke up and found Hyde nude, attempting to quietly awaken someone. The name has been redacted from court records.
Less than a year later, Laster disappeared.
Court records say he was last seen with Hyde.
Days later, authorities would find a dismembered torso behind a dumpster in Lake City.
A medical examiner was unable to identify the body until years later, when Laster's sister saw a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children flyer.
She contacted police in September 2015 and said she thought the flyer could be about her missing brother.
Investigators confirmed the body was Laster's after comparing DNA with his sister's.
Laster's sister told police her brother was last seen with family friend Ronnie Hyde and that she believed he may have been involved in her brother's disappearance.
Investigators obtained Hyde's DNA after pulling trash from his Jacksonville Beach home.
The DNA from a nasal swab matched DNA on a bloody flannel found near Laster's body in 1994.
Blood-stained knives were also found at the Lake City gas station.
Investigators interviewed Laster's brother in New Orleans in late 2016. He said that Hyde had Ginsu-style knives and took some classes toward a nursing degree.
The family waited for answers, suspecting Hyde the entire time, until March 7, 2017 when Hyde was arrested at his Jacksonville Beach home
Cox Media Group