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Investigation into the deaths of two sons of a Melrose family who recently moved to the area from Polk County is underway by Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. `Autopsies were scheduled this morning by the District 23 Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Augustine. Putnam Sheriff’s investigators worked through the night talking to neighbors and family and sifting through evidence at the home at 129 Shiloh Road, according to Sheriff Gator DeLoach. Residents in the multi-family home included a husband and wife and three children who moved into the residence just over two weeks ago. Name of the victims, both of whom were between the ages of 14 and 16, have not been released. The mother and three children were in the house, the father a long-distance truck driver, was away. The woman woke up Wednesday morning and found the bodies of the two teens who had been stabbed to death in a back room. She headed to the house of her father a couple of blocks away and they returned to the Shiloh Road house while his wife called 911 around 10:30 a.m. Posting on Facebook Wednesday, DeLoach asked people to keep “these two angels and their families in your prayers tonight as our investigators work diligently to be their voice and bring those responsible to justice.” DeLoach said in looking through family scrapbooks “you could see the two were young vibrant boys with their whole lives before them.” If you have information, call the Sheriff’s Office or the Crimestoppers line to remain anonymous.
Coronavirus concerns continue with one new related death each in Putnam and St. Johns counties reported Wednesday. The Florida Department of Health in Putnam County said a 69-year-old man had died, bringing the Putnam death toll to 36 virus related deaths since counting began in March. In addition another 15 new cases and four transfers out of Putnam brought the case total to 1,740. Flagler County reported eight new cases putting their total as of Wednesday at 1,275. St. Johns County also reported one new death, putting their death total at 54. Twenty-four new cases were reported Wednesday bringing the case total to 4,219.
A temporary injunction that could have closed brick-and-mortar schools has been superseded by a challenge from the state. Teacher unions filed the suit saying the state’s reopening of schools is unconstitutional and Monday a Leon County circuit judge sided with them. However, attorneys for the governor and education commissioner filed a notice of appeal and that put the possibility of closing on hold. Some school superintendents whose districts have already reopened including Putnam’s Rick Surrency say they don’t see closing. “That train has left the station” in the words of one. Schools in Putnam and Flagler counties reopened on Monday. St. Johns is scheduled to reopen Aug. 31 ,and parents there are getting a health screening form and a symptom checklist they’re being asked to use daily before sending students to school.
Some Flagler County residents are concerned about the lack of public input as county officials go about hiring a deputy county administrator. The job is now called chief of staff and some think whoever is chosen is likely to end up as county manager when current manager Jerry Cameron retires next year. Five people have been short listed for the chief of staff job and they’ll meet with a panel and commissioners individually Friday. The meetings haven’t been opened to the public.
St. Augustine authorities were once again at work in the early morning erasing more of the city’s Civil War history. This time it was representatives for University of Florida Historic St. Augustine Board. They maintain Government House and a park next to the Plaza de la Constitucion as well as having oversight of nearly two dozen historic properties downtown. Moved early Wednesday morning was the memorial, gravestone and ashes of Confederate General William Loring. UF says the family asked for the move to Trout Creek Fish Camp where the city is set to haul an obelisk honoring Confederate dead. After the grave was dug up and a religious ceremony held, Dr. Kathy Deagan, formerly with UF, headed up an archaeological survey that included removing artifacts belonging to the general.
Saturday the Bronson-Mulholland House front sidewalks and entry will be spruced up as the Putnam County Historical Society and Keep Putnam Beautiful hold a joint cleanup from 8-9 a.m. at the house at 100 Madison St. in Palatka. Participants are asked to bring work gloves and gardening tools. Masks and social distancing will be used.. The city, which owns the house, has closed it since March due to coronavirus. If you’re available to help with the cleanup, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.