• Sheriff's Office: 'We need your help' to solve cold cases in Polk County

    By: Kelly Healey


    POLK COUNTY, Fla. - The Polk County Sheriff’s Office took to social media in an effort to solve cold cases that happened prior to 2008.


    In a Facebook post, the PCSO wrote: “Since June 2008, the Polk County Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit has solved 100% of the homicides investigated by PCSO - which includes any homicides that occurred in unincorporated Polk County. The PCSO Cold Case Unit is still diligently working on clearing the homicides that occurred in our jurisdiction prior to 2008. The oldest cold case dates back to 1961.”


    Three of several cold cases were featured in the post:


    Elizabeth Batchelor | Found Aug. 1, 1978:
    - “On August 1, 1978, at around 2:00 a.m., Elizabeth Batchelor's 1976 Ford pick-up truck was found on Cass Road in Lake Alfred. It had apparently crashed into a tree and caught on fire. Elizabeth's badly charred remains were discovered within the vehicle. Based on her autopsy, it is believed that she was most likely dead before the fire began.”


    Jeanifer Weldon | Found Oct. 2, 1987:
    - “15-year-old Jeanifer Weldon was reported missing on September 21, 1987, after she failed to return home from a friend’s house. She was last seen near a carnival at US Hwy 98 North and Daughtry Road in Lakeland, walking northbound on US 98 in the area of Shadow Drive. Her body was found on October 2, 1987, on Gardiner Mine property near Bowling Green Road in Fort Meade. The cause of death is possibly strangulation.”


    Tina Marie Janose | Found Oct. 31, 1981:
    - “On October 31, 1981, at approximately 5:45 a.m., 13-year-old Tina Marie Janose was found underneath the I-4 overpass at Mt. Olive Road in Polk City. She was abducted during the night from her residence in the Wahneta area of Winter Haven. She had been sexually battered, strangled, and thrown off the overpass.”


    “We need YOUR HELP to solve these cases and bring justice to these victims' families,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote.


    Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit at (863) 298-6379 or send an email to coldcase@polksheriff.org.


    Or you can remain anonymous by calling Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226 TIPS (8477), via the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com by clicking on "Submit A Tip" tab, or with your smart device by downloading the free "P3tips" app on your smartphone or tablet.


    To see all the cold cases being investigated, click or tap here.


    Next Up: