EXCLUSIVE: Slaying of 15-year-old DeLand cheerleader Laralee Spear 25 years ago today tops online news site's listing of 1,000-plus unsolved Florida homicides

Headline Surfer photo illustration / Bobby Raleigh, a condemned killer sits on Florida's Death Row, and while authorities had tried pinning the brutal slaying of 15-year-old Laralee Spears, on him, there was no forensic evidence or witnesses tying him to the DeLand High School freshman honor student's killing 25 years ago, just a stone's throw from her family's home in the woods. A quarter-century has passed and the murder remains unsolved. 

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DELAND, Fla -- Laralee Spear, figuratively and literally, was the girl next door when she met her cruel fate 25 years ago today to be exact. 

For it was on this date, April 25, 1994, that the 15-year-old DeLand High School honor student and cheerleader crossed path with her killer after she stepped off the school bus and walked along a dirt path in the woods to her family's Deerfoot Road home. 

Ninety missed had passed when her parents became worried after she hadn't come through the front door and so they frighteningly called the cops, only to see their worst fears realized in a matter of hours when her her partially-nude body was first spotted from a Volusia County Sheriff's helicoptera quarter-mile from her family's home on the backyard patio of the ruins of an old abandoned house destroyed by fire the year before.

Spear lay dead in a pool of her own blood, the resuilt of three mortal bullet wounds to the back of her head when responding cops got to the grisly crime scene. Her hands were tied, tied, much of her clothing was torn away and missing. There were signs of physical trauma, indicating she may have been beaten and an attempt made to sexually assault in the final moments of her life before the kill shots into her brain. 

In the ensuing days, some remnants of Spear's clothes were found scattered alongside Deerfoot Road, as if haphazardly discarded by a killer intent of barrelling out of the scene of the crime.

A profile of the killer was made: Portrayed as a young male, possibly even an older teenager, he may have had a new handgun that he was obsessed with. He probably talked of the murder beforehand, had anger issues and likely was very inexperienced in the act of killing. He may have attempted to kidnap Spear and then tried to rape her when she fought back before he gunned her down and flerd the scene.

The investigators all along have been tightlipped as to forensic evidence, the type of gun used and the position of her body.

Her autopsy remains sealed despite the passage of time since it is still an active investigation. Witnesses from the neighborhood told cops they saw a black low-rider truck speeding away from the vicinity that afternoon. 

But the trail grew cold quickly.

Nearly 6 months later, cops release letter Spear 'wrote to God' 2 months before her slaying

That Oct. 14, investigators released a letter Spear wrote to God two months before she was murdered. Investigators were unable to pin down any leads as to who she might have feared.

In the letter, dated Feb. 16, Laralee wrote what eerily appeared to be a precursor to her possibbly being raped or worse: "Lord, in church we learned that you are the one to fear, not the people of this world for they can only hurt my body, but you Lord can send me to hell."

A $10,000 reward was also being offered in the weeks and months following the discovery of her slaying for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the homicide. But still nothing concrete.

Headline Surfer Listing of Florida Unsolved Homicides: 1950s

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Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.