Jacksonville cold case gets second look thanks to new technology

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) is taking a second look at a case that is nearly 30 years old. The hope is to find the person who killed a 22-year-old mother back in the 90′s using new, advanced technology.

Renee McBreen was a young mother. She had blonde curls and a big smile, and she was known as a hard worker.

“I’m very well known for my manners,” Caleb Flanagan said. “I found out that she [Renee] taught me ‘please and thank you’ before she taught me ‘mom and dad.’”

McBreen took on the role of mom and dad to her 3-year-old son, Caleb. Her husband was in the navy, training in Colorado at the time.

Flanagan is now in his early 30′s, and he still remembers bits and pieces from September 21, 1992.

“Whenever I woke up that morning and saw you know what had happened I covered her up,” Flanagan said. His father had called that morning to check in on the family. It was the day after McBreen had thrown a birthday party for her son.

“He calls and asks to speak to her. Caleb actually picks the phone and says ‘I can’t wake mommy,’” Ray Reeves said. He is a cold case detective with JSO. “He [Caleb] gave some basic descriptions of a man arguing with mommy. That’s all that he has, even over the years, has been able to recall.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to the home on Crescent Street and pronounced McBreen dead, in 1992. She had blunt force trauma to the head. There were no signs of forced entry to the home. However, detectives said, the back door could easily be locked from the outside.

September will mark 30 years since the murder. Detectives are taking a second look at the case.

“We are in a great place now where we are looking back at DNA advancements in technology,” Reeves said. “There’s a partial print that’s in blood and a few other things. I can’t go into all of those, but over the years those have been looked at and up to this point we’ve had negative results.”

Reeves said this case is a great candidate for the new technology. JSO has been re-running evidence.

“Then there’s some new items that were never submitted because we never had that technology before,” Reeves said.

Flanagan said he’s not exactly looking for closure, but rather answers about the mother he never really knew.

“You know, justice is great and fine and dandy but tomorrow I’m not gonna wake up and have my mom back, whether we catch the guy or not,” Flanagan said. “For me, the best part about all this is I’m getting to learn the kind of mom she was. The kind of person she was.”