John Couey is Dead-Has Justice Been Served?

We moved to Florida in January, 2005 and we rented a little townhouse in the tiny town of Homosassa in a very lovely development aptly named Sugarmill Woods.  One of the historic markers in Homosassa is the Yulee Sugar Mill and is now a State Park.

This is truly old Florida, it has its charm, it has its strangeness of wanting to hold onto the past too.  Families who have lived there for years don’t like change.  They don’t like new housing developments sprouting up.  I am not kidding when I tell you I would see people barefoot in Walgreen’s or WalMart.  There were people living there on the edge of poverty and people living there who had made millions of dollars.

Also living in Homosassa was a sick sad soul by the name of John Couey.  Couey was a registered sexual offender.

Couey had a long list of criminal offenses,  He had been arrested 24 times for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon without permit, and indecent exposure.  In 1978 he had been sent to prison for kissing a young girl while committing robbery. He was sent to prison for 10 years, paroled in two.  He was arrested soon again for fondling a 5-year-old girl.  Laws were more lenient then.

On February 24, 2005 the family of sweet innocent beautiful little Jessica Lunsford reported her missing.  Our little sleepy town went national news as reporters arrived, search parties were brought in and in the end Jessica was only yards away from her family the entire time.

The following is an excerpt from the Bill O’Reilly show regarding the errors the Citrus County Sheriff’s Department allegedly made regarding Couey:

GELMAN:Well, there are several reasons. A few months before Jessie was abducted, FDLE sent a letter to Sheriff Dawsy advising him to round up the sex offenders in the area. Couey was on that list, and no one ever went to search for him. We understand that just two weeks before Jessie was abducted, Couey was reported to law enforcement as living in that trailer right in front of her house. They were told where he was. They were told that he had a warrant for his arrest, that he was a sex offender and to pick him up. And no one went and got him.

O’REILLY:All right. So let’s stop there. So the first step is that Florida authorities told Citrus County Sheriff Dawsy to pick up Couey, and he didn’t pick him up. And he knew, you guys are alleging, that Couey was living very close to the little girl. Do I have it correct?
The answer was “yes”.
I was sitting at my desk in my office on Good Friday in 2005.  My dogs alerted me to activity in the sky and I went outside to be greeted by many helicopters flying overhead circling our neighborhood.  It was then that I got the worst case of bone chilling coldness I ever had in my life because I knew in my heart that they were there because little Jessica’s body had been found.
The police found Jessica Lunsford’s body at Couey’s residence located on West Sparrow Court, under the front porch and buried in a hole approximately 2½’ deep and 2′ circular, covered with leaves. The body was removed from the ground and transported to the coroners office. Her body had undergone “moderate” to “severe” decomposition and, according to the publicly released autopsy reports, was skeletonized on two fingers that Lunsford had poked through the bags before suffocating to death. The coroner ruled that death would have happened even in best circumstances within three or five minutes from lack of oxygen.
Couey later confessed to keeping her in the trailer for 3 days before burying her alive.  He repeatedly raped her over those 3 days.  I do not know how her family goes on to this day.
Couey was found guilty and sent to prison and given the death sentence.  While I am sure the family has been kept informed of Couey’s cancer diagnosis, I am not sure that death by cancer was the outcome they were looking for since the sentence was handed down.
The memory of the day they buried sweet little Jessie as her dad called her is one of over 1000 mourners came to the public service for that darling little girl.  People came from all over to honor her and comfort her family. 
I just can’t help but wonder if the family feels cheated.
Forever in our hearts!

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