A local murder case that remained unsolved for almost 44 years was finally closed on Thursday. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office recently identified the suspect linked to the murder of Carol Ann Barrett, whose body was dumped in Jacksonville back in 1980.
Action News Jax spoke with the group helping the Barrett family push to solve this case.
The suspect is 65-year-old Billy Mansfield, Jr., who would have been 24 at the time of Carol’s murder and is linked to several other killings.
On Sunday, Mar. 23, 1980, 18-year-old Carol Ann Barrett was visiting Daytona Beach while on spring break from Zanesville, Ohio with a group of high school friends. At approximately 2:00 a.m., Carol was abducted by an unknown assailant from the Treasure Island Motel in Daytona Beach Shores.
On Monday, Mar. 24, 1980, Carol’s lifeless body was discovered by a passerby in a ditch line along I-95 near Pecan Park Road in Jacksonville, Florida. However, investigators with JSO never identified a suspect.
In Aug. 2017, Carol’s case was reopened by members of the JSO’s cold case unit after reviewing all available evidence.
“Ever since we got involved and communicated with them, it has never left their minds,” founder of Project Code Case, Ryan Backmann said
The project cold case in Jacksonville has been working with the Barrett family since 2017.
”That family in Ohio was still thinking about Carol every single day. Being able to be that communication for when they had a question about what was going on. They felt they had a trust and a bond to reach out and call,” Beckmann said.
Backmann called Carol’s niece, Claire Gilligan, once JSO finally identified Billy Mansfield Jr as the suspect.
“When someone sees a 44-year-old case solved, that gives them hope,” Backmann said. “That is what we want. We want them to know that anything is possible.”
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Backman also added that closure is important for the family.
“For some families, it’s just enough to know who it was, and they are not out there harming other people.”
Mansfield will remain in prison in California on one life sentence for murder, as well as four concurrent life sentences from Florida for murder in separate cases.
Project Cold Case has helped solve over 50 cases during the nine years of its operation.