This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Michael England used to love working at the local ballpark with his mom and her husband. “We were always really involved at that ballpark,” said his mother, Bridget Massie. “Michael was always right there helping us.” In 2012, when Michael’s stepfather stepped down as the park’s president Michael took a construction job to continue helping his family.
On May 17, 2013, Michael came home from working at his construction job and a friend came by the family house to get Michael. Both left to go to a friend’s house nearby for a get-together. That was the last moment Bridget saw her son alive. Around 4 a.m. the next day, Michael was found dead in the intersection of Pitts and Slay roads. He sustained multiple blunt force injuries from being struck by a vehicle that had fled the scene. Michael was 25 years old when he died.
Police said the vehicle that struck Michael was possibly a truck, but those vehicles are common in that area. They believe it was a hit and run. Michael’s mother said he did not drive, and would walk everywhere if he did not have a ride. The area of the homicide is in the Dinsmore neighborhood of Jacksonville, which is a rural residential area with few sidewalks.
Michael lived in Jacksonville with his mother and other relatives. Bridget had Michael when she was 15 years old and left the Jacksonville home she shared with her mother. She moved in with her new husband in 1994 in hopes of building a better life for all of them. Growing up, Michael participated in wrestling, football, and baseball although his mother said he wasn’t very good at baseball.
His mother described him as full of life and says there was not an uneventful day with Michael. As a teenager, Michael would sometimes jump the fence of school and play hooky. Bridget laughed as she described her and the security officer making sure he stayed the entire day. “I would take him to school, and I would circle the block and he was jumping the fence to skip school and I would intercept him. I ended up pulling up every morning and the officer would walk him to class and walk him back to my car in the evening,” she said.
Michael was 5’9”, with blue eyes and he could usually be seen in boots with his blue jeans tucked in paired with a t-shirt. He had a tattoo of his mother’s name on his forearm and Michael’s mother said she will always remember his smile.
Bridget memorializes her son with a family tree of pictures she is building on the wall in her house. On the family tree, Michael can be seen in a few pictures at different ages.
After Michael’s death, Bridget often visited the site of the accident to take care of his memorial. She said it helped her deal with the grief. “That’s how I dealt with it, I dealt with it by making stuff. I made a lot of flower arrangements, I made a lot of signs, I even walked the streets with a group of people who’d known someone killed there around the same time,” she said. For a long time, the memorial site was filled with balloons and flowers for Michael, along with a tip line poster with a picture of Michael on it. Now only a few flowers are left there from the original memorial.
Bridget continues to remember her son who loved helping others and was the life of the party around those he loved.
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