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A Year Later, Thomas McIntee's Family Searches For Answers

Ryan Benk
A memorial to slain Gate gas station attendant Thomas McIntee was unveiled on the grounds of Animal Care and Protective Services in Jacksonville Monday.

Friends and family of Thomas McIntee marked a somber anniversary Monday. It’s been a year since the 24-year-old was shot dead while working at a Gate gas station in Jacksonville.

McIntee’s loved ones gathered at Animal Care and Protective Services to dedicate a memorial in his name.

The recorded voice of voice of Thomas McIntee, whose murder remains unsolved, played on loud speakers at a memorial marking a year since his death.  His family describes him as a gentle soul who loved poetry and someone who was a friend to all — two legged or four.

Friends of Jacksonville Animals Board Member Becky Hamilton says after his death, she helped his mother, Wendy Johnson, find a way to spend a $10,000 donation from the Gate Foundation in his name.

“Thomas was a lover of dogs. And he was such a happy and wonderful person and shared so many wonderful things with us,” Hamilton says.

The two decided to help Jacksonville shelter Animal Care and Protective Services because he loved animals.

Meanwhile, his killers are still on the loose, despite close to 40 tips to First Coast Crime Stoppers. $23,000 in reward money is up for grabs to anyone who leads to an arrest in the case. $20,000 of that came from the Gate Foundation.

But does the extra money make a difference?

First Coast Crime Stoppers President Wiley Hodges says the statistics speak for themselves.

“We solve about 800 crimes a year, which is pretty significant,” Hodges says. “And we pay out a lot of money, anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 a year.”

But that number is much lower when it comes to murder. Hodges says there’s been around 107 murders solved by crime stoppers tips since he took the helm nine years ago. And he’s hopeful the enhanced reward for McIntee’s case incentivizes people to speak up.

First Coast Crime Stoppers has a running tally of statistics posted on its site. As of Oct. 10, the organization says it’s paid out more than $870,000 in reward money and its tips have led to more than 3,000 arrests.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.