The Unsolved Murder of Coral Gables Police Officer Walter Stathers
Did Robert Jackson kill officer Walter Stathers? Watch his polygraph below and you decide.
$100,000.00 reward offered by the City of Coral Gables, Florida for information relating to the homicide of Officer Walter Stathers
On the morning of Dec. 19, 1967, he was on his regular patrol. At 2:59 a.m., his final worksheet showed, he responded to a disturbance at 5740 San Vicente St. "Talked to the Hughes boy and another couple and asked them to keep it a little lower," he wrote. Then Stathers spotted something. Requesting a K9 unit at 4:18 a.m., Stathers dispatched this: "Get me a dog car." Stathers never gave his location. But Jim Harley, a fellow patrolman who would later serve as a Coral Gables police chief, and others rushed over, figuring he'd be outside the home of Anthony Abraham on South Alhambra Circle. Abraham, who owned a car dealership, had decorated his home with a huge holiday lights display. Stathers had guarded it while on patrol. "You knew if you went looking for Walt after 4 a.m., if there no other calls, he would be there keeping an eye out on it," Harley said. First on the scene, Harley saw a set of headlights -- the newspaper deliveryman was coming. Then he saw Stathers' patrol car, across the street from Abraham's house. The car was in drive, engine running, driver's side door open. It had wildly crossed the lawn, crashing into the patio in the back of the Kaaber house, 700 S. Alhambra Circle. Harley found the 45-year-old burly cop, face down, on the wet lawn. "It was pretty obvious he has been shot in the back of the head. It came out through his forehead. He was dead. No life in his body," Harley recalled. The homeowner, Bent Kaaber, remembered: "I heard a big crash, and I looked out the window, and when I looked, I happened to see a blue flash and later on, I realized what that was -- it was actually when Walter got shot." Kaaber's live-in maid, Bertha Droquett, rushed to her window. She told police a tall, thin black man wearing black pants, a white shirt pedaled away on a 28-inch English-model bicycle with a chrome fender. Investigators speculated Stathers had surprised a prowler. Perhaps he had jumped out, forgetting to shift the gear into park. Or maybe he had arrested the man, put him in the car but had stumbled out during a brawl. Stathers' arm was bruised, twisted back. His .357 Colt Trooper, black stripes set against the white handle, was missing. As the sun rose, officers hunted for the man on a bicycle but found nothing. Dade sheriff's investigators, along with Miami police, launched a manhunt. More than 100 tips came in during the first few days. Former Coral Gables Maj. Richard Bannon, now retired, believes rivalries between Metro Dade and Miami police may have hurt the case. He believes there have been "strong suspects over the years, and they always come back to three or four people" from Coconut Grove. "This should not be unsolved," he said.