St. Pete police using social media to generate new tips for 6 cold cases

Investigators using new tactics in cold case unit
Posted at 5:12 PM, Nov 30, 2016

The St. Petersburg Police Department is tracking new leads in multiple unsolved crimes by using new tech tools to help them uncover vital information. 

"Help Us Find The Missing" is a new push by investigators to get answers for six St. Petersburg cold cases. 

Answers Leah Martin prays for daily. 

"She didn't deserve it," said Martin, whose daughter went missing July 2012. "It may not be tomorrow and it may not be next year, but we'll get there. We'll bring her home."

Morgan Martin, 17, was pregnant when she went missing four years ago. 

Although police arrested her former boyfriend, Jacobee Flowers, for her death, Morgan's body has never been recovered. 

"You just think, you know, as quick as she was gone she should be found, and it's really, really hard, but you've just got to be patient," said Leah Martin. 

Martin is one of six cold cases getting a fresh look as investigators utilize social media to post missing person's profiles online. 

"Now you can reach thousands, hundreds of thousands of people with the click of a button," said civilian investigator Brenda Stevenson. 

SPPD started operating its cold case unit in 2015. 

Investigators received a workable tip just 24 hours of posting Sharon Harrer's information to Facebook on Monday. The 20-year-old was last seen getting into a Cadillac outside of a club in Madeira Beach in 1979. 

"It was somebody that was aware of the case and knew some of the people that were involved in the case," said Stevenson. 

In Morgan's case, Leah Martin believes the 2016 arrest in her daughter's disappearance would not have happened without St. Petersburg's cold case unit. 

"They're Heaven sent if you ask me," said Leah Martin. 

Flowers faces a first-degree murder charge in Morgan's disappearance. He's scheduled to be in court for a hearing Thursday morning, which also marks Morgan's birthday. She would have been 22. 

University of South Florida scientists and law enforcement officers from across Florida are partnering to host "Missing in Florida Day," on Saturday, Dec. 3. 

It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the USF Marshall Student Center Ballroom at 4103 USF Cedar Circle in Tampa. 

The event will focus on missing and unidentified persons cases and will provide an opportunity for families to file reports for the first time. 

Currently, more than 3,200 people are missing in the state of Florida. Nationwide, there are more than 84,000 reported missing persons.