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UNSOLVED CASE OF THE FORT MYERS 8 'The HartBeat Show' Meets 'Paradise After Dark'
“Yeah, because that would make me feel better,” Ken added sarcastically.
This month, I have something special for you true crime junkies out there. Be warned, if murder mysteries and unsolved crimes aren’t your thing, you might want to jump ahead to our other articles, because this story gets pretty gnarly. We’re talking about the Fort Myers 8. In 2007, the skeletal remains of eight victims were found in Fort Myers. Only three skeletons have been identified, and to this day, the case remains open and unsolved. I was born and raised here in Southwest Florida, but I had never heard this story until I happened upon a local podcast, “Paradise After Dark.” Hosted by Lauren and Ken, this podcast covers “the dark side of the Sunshine State.” After hearing Lauren and Ken talk about the Fort Myers 8, I invited them to discuss this terrifying case on my podcast, “The HartBeat Show.” When I first heard about this story, I was blown away. They found these skeletons near Rockfill Road in Fort Myers, in an area full of houses and not far from a baseball facility. During our conversation, Lauren mentioned that when the bodies were first reported, the lead investigator, Detective Jennifer Soto, didn’t expect to find anything. “That area is known for people throwing out pig carcasses and things like that,” Lauren explained. “She wasn’t expecting human remains, let alone eight full skeletons, to be found.” When Detective Soto and her team realized they had found human skeletons, all within 50 yards of each other, it launched a bunch of theories, ranging from “possible” to “completely off the wall.” There were theories that the skeletons were victims of a funeral home dump, part of a mass suicide, a mob hit out of Tampa, or passengers on a plane who had gone missing in the Bermuda Triangle. But according to investigators, the most likely theory was that this had been the work of a serial killer. “This was most upsetting to the residents of Fort Myers,” Lauren mentioned. “But then the investigators came out and said, ‘If this is the work of a serial killer, you don’t have to be worried. Whatever happened here happened a long time ago.’”
Investigators believe that these bodies were left between 1987– 2001. The serial killer theory is the most likely because there was a serial killer active in Fort Myers in the early ‘90s. Daniel Conahan is better known as the Hog Trail Killer because he would leave his victims on hog trails. One of his victims was found within a mile of where the Fort Myers 8 were discovered. I’m not going to go into Conahan’s crimes here — gotta save something for the podcast — but I will say that I agree with Lauren and Ken when they name Conahan as their prime suspect. If you’re interested in the details, or if you want to know why Ken’s nickname for Conahan is “The Pickle Poacher,” check out the full episode of the podcast titled “The Unsolved Case of the Fort Myers 8.” We went on to discuss details about the case, profiles of the victims, and how much investigators can tell about you just by your teeth, but the most interesting part of my conversation with Lauren and Ken came toward the end. True crime is an interest to a lot of people, but for “Paradise After Dark,” it’s also about getting closure. In the case of the Fort Myers 8, five of these people are still unidentified. They were left in the woods for maybe 20 years with people missing them but having no idea what happened. If bringing attention to these stories helps get new answers, it can bring some sort of closure to the victims and their families. I want to give a huge thank you to Lauren and Ken of “Paradise After Dark.” Talking to them was a really cool experience. If you’re from Fort Myers and you’ve never heard about this case or if you’re a true crime enthusiast, you can hear the full episode of my podcast, with all the unsettling details, at TimHartJr.com. You can also find “Paradise After Dark” anywhere you get your podcasts.
VanDyk Mortgage | www.TimHartJr.com | 239-437-4278
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