Youth pastor charged in teen’s dismemberment slaying wants his guns back while he awaits trial
A Florida youth pastor charged with the cold-case murder of one teen and the sexual abuse of others wants his guns back while he awaits trial.
Ronnie Hyde pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and child pornography charges in March related to the 1994 slaying of 16-year-old Fred Laster, whose dismembered body was found in a Dumpster.
Laster’s decapitated torso was found behind a trash bin near Lake City, but the remains went unidentified until a DNA test in 2015 matched the slain teen to his twin sister.
Police said the 61-year-old Hyde befriended the runaway teen more than two decades ago as youth pastor at Strength for Living Church in Yulee, prosecutors said.
Investigators strongly suggested they suspect Hyde — who had been a counselor at Crosswater Community Church in Nocatee up to his arrest — is a suspect in other unsolved cases by plastering his face on eight billboards seeking information in the Jacksonville area.
New court documents show that prosecutors are also gathering evidence in two additional sex abuse cases dating back to the early 1990s.
A man came forward after Hyde’s arrest in March and said the former youth pastor had mentored him as a runaway in 1992, brought him to his house, used the guns to impress him, showed him pornography and sexually abused him.
Hyde’s attorneys are seeking the return of some of the evidence — including a Toyota Scion, firearms, guitar equipment, a cell phone and a wallet — gathered from the former church leader’s home, which was demolished in May as a biohazard.
FBI agents who raided the home found multiple code violations, such as no running water and a bathtub used as a toilet.
Prosecutors said they’re willing to return Hyde’s car, wallet and music equipment, but not the smart phones or guns.
The city held no condemnation proceedings on the home, and a demolition permit was issued at the request of a Hyde family attorney as part of a property sale to a new owner.
Defense attorneys want Hyde, who had previously been named in an international child exploitation case, to be tried separately on the murder and child pornography charges.
Hyde, who is due back in court next month, remains jailed without bond.