July 18, 2020
We first spotlighted the unsolved murder of Stephen Wiggins in April 2015, over six years after he was found on the side of the road bleeding and unresponsive a couple of blocks from his home. Mr. Wiggins’ car was parked, running on the other side of the street and with the driver’s side door open. Now, almost twelve years since his murder, many of the family’s questions remain unanswered and the case is still unsolved.
In July 2019, Project: Cold Case facilitated a meeting between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit Sergeant and Stephen’s daughter, Katie Wiggins. The meeting was held at the Project: Cold Case office in downtown Jacksonville, just a quarter-mile from the Police Memorial Building, to provide a “neutral field” for both parties and update the family on any case developments.
The Wiggins murder had been re-opened shortly prior to the meeting by the cold case supervisor and assigned to a detective to bring the case up to current investigative standards.
Quickly, detectives recognized a few items that could be followed up on in hopes of generating a direction for the investigation. Initially, things looked promising as the investigators identified a person they believed could assist with the case, but who had never spoken to detectives.
The family didn’t know it at the time, but the case was suddenly moving, and more work was being done to solve the case than had been done in years.
Unfortunately, the leads dried up almost as quickly as they had appeared, and the investigation went cold again.
The meeting between family and detectives was to inform Katie that her father’s case had been brought up to 2019 investigative standards but, ultimately, re-suspended. “Re-suspended” is a term often used by agencies when there is nothing left to investigate, and detectives must wait for that next lead to appear.
One thing was clear after during the meeting – there are people out there that know more than they are willing to share with law enforcement. What isn’t clear is what it will take for them to come forward.
During the meeting, investigators displayed a case file that was clearly thoroughly worked, evident by the thick stack of papers. They shared some details of the re-opened case that would not jeopardize any future investigation or potential prosecution. But for Katie, who has been fighting for justice for her father for years, there was a great deal of disappointment.
“I’m still processing his death in a new way even twelve years later,” Katie says. “I never knew I would have more to process and wade through.”
Life without her father has been difficult and poses a complicated journey that she and her family must process. When asked what was lost in her father’s murder, Katie shares memory after memory of a man who was funny and loved by so many people.
As Katie continues to achieve her goals, both personally and professionally, the existence of her father’s absence is magnified. Time doesn’t heal those wounds; it hides them and they reemerge with each milestone and achievement.
While Stephen’s case was ultimately re-suspended after the work and reviews yielded no viable results for investigators, the update offered Katie an indication that her dad’s case is not forgotten. “I am not giving up,” Katie says, asserting her intentions of holding the person who committed this violent act accountable for their actions, but also indicating that she will continue her work toward ensuring the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is reminded of their role in one of the many unsolved cases in the city.
April 25, 2015
On October 6, 2008, Stephen Wiggins left Mattie’s Landing bar on Lake Shore Blvd and headed home.
His family is still haunted by what happened next and why the man they loved was shot multiple times and left on the side of the road dead.
Stephen’s car was parked a few feet away, still running and with the driver’s side door open. His family has been left to imagine how the scenario unfolded.
Was it a confrontation? Did someone follow him from the bar? Why won’t the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office tell them how many times he was shot and where?
Going on 7 years later, there are still far more questions than answers.
“He always protected us, gave us advice, and was always there for us, making sure we were happy and cared for.”
Someone, somewhere knows who did this. It’s time to step up and give Stephen’s family the answers they deserve. It’s time for justice.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Stephen Wiggins, no matter how small you think it may be, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500.
To remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS. You may be eligible for a reward of up to $3,000 if your Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest in this case.
If you have a loved one that is the victim of an unsolved homicide please submit their case here for consideration in a future Cold Case Spotlight post.