Clearwater Police Detective Michael Hasty said finding a witness to talk was the toughest part in solving Leon Dash’s murder.
“This murder occurred in front of probably close to 200 people, yet almost nobody was willing to cooperate with the police and tell us what they saw,” he said.
In 2007, Dash, a security guard, was trying to break up a fight outside the now closed Atrium Martini Bar in downtown Clearwater.
He was punched in the melee, hitting his head on the ground. Dash later died from his injuries.
For years Davis’ father and sisters waited for the killer’s arrest.
“He was not just another number. He was my father’s only son. Our only brother. And really loving,” his sister Ladwayna said to us in 2013.
Police said a combination of witness statements and more hard evidence finally led to the arrest of Preston Bell, who is charged with manslaughter.
Bell is already in jail on other unrelated charges including attempted murder.
Police hope with Bell behind bars, other witnesses will feel more comfortable coming forward.
While the Dash family can find some relief, they are still living with another unsolved mystery.
Leon’s mother, Margaret Dash, disappeared in 1974, never coming home from a trip to the store.
Detective Hasty said he is happy to give this family at least some closure.
“The fact that this particular family has suffered exponentially more than any of our others, we are certainly mindful of that. We remain diligent in this case as well as all of the unresolved cold case homicides we’ve been investigating,” he said.
Dash’s family said they are relieved that Bell was arrested, but believe others were involved in Leon’s death.