Nassau County

‘We can’t wait to get out:’ Fernandina Beach homicide victim identified, neighbors shocked by crime

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — A suspicious death in Fernandina Beach has police investigating it as a homicide.

Officers were called to a home on the 400 block of South 13th Street Sunday evening around 9 p.m. for a suspicious activity call. Police say officers found one person, who they say was a visitor, dead inside the home.

That person was identified Tuesday by police as Coleen Marie Potts, 73, of Yulee.

The Fernandina Beach Police Department said she was housesitting for the homeowner and that the investigation is ongoing.

“This is believed to be an isolated incident and there is no immediate threat to the community. We always encourage the members of our community to take basic safety precautions that include among others, locking your doors, not inviting strangers into your home, utilizing outside security lights and surveillance cameras, not confronting suspicious people, and contacting the police if you feel uneasy about activity you may observe,” the police department said in a statement.

RELATED: Fernandina Beach police investigating homicide on South 13th Street

Neighbors are shocked by what happened. They say crimes are few and far between in the area. Data from the city show just three reported murders in Fernandina Beach from 2016 to 2020.

“It’s a shame, such a nice, very quiet neighborhood,” Emanuel Williams told Action News Jax.

Williams has lived on South 13th for almost 30 years. On Monday morning, he woke up to something he’s never seen on his street before: crime scene tape and several investigators.

Action News Jax spoke off-camera with a neighbor who says he made the 911 call. He and Williams said the victim was a woman who was dog sitting.

The neighbor who made the call says he saw the dogs running loose in the neighborhood. When he took them home, he says he noticed the garage door was open.

Later that evening, he said he saw the dogs outside again. That’s when he says he saw the front door wide open, which then prompted him to call police.

“We’ve lived here nine months now, and we can’t wait to get out,” said a neighbor who wished to stay anonymous.

That neighbor says his home has been broken into and burglarized three times since he’s lived there. The most recent break-in was just last week, he said.

He no longer feels safe in his new neighborhood.

“It was a very calm, quiet neighborhood when we first moved in, that’s why we came here. And since then, it sure has turned into anything but a quiet block,” he added.

As for Williams, he says he’s on high alert now.

STORY: ‘It threw me in the air’: Clay hit & run victim says she’s lucky to be alive

“We have to protect our homes,” he said.

His heart goes out to the victim and the family.

“Any time you lose a loved one, regardless of how, but something like this, I can’t imagine,” he added.

Comments on this article