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Crimeline reconstructed from available newspaper articles.

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  • MAY 7, 1981
    • Rick Merrill’s parents return from California, giving Rick a gold chain with a gold sand dollar medallion.
  • MAY 8, 1981
    8:30 PM
    • Rick Merrill leaves The Ark Restaurant in Weeki Wachee.

    10:30 PM
    • Dori Colyer concludes her shift at Fat Boys Restaurant in Brooksville.

  • MAY 9, 1981
    1 AM
    • Rick Merril and Dori Colyer leave the Hilltop Lounge in Brooksville, telling friends they will be back in half an hour.

    2:30 AM
    • A passing tow truck operator observes a fire near an abandoned structure in the 300 block of Stafford Avenue in Brooksville. Fire personnel are dispatched to a “brush fire.” Upon extinguishing the blaze, the charred bodies of Rick Merrill and Dori Colyer are discovered.

    • Investigators begin processing the crime scene.

    2:30 AM
    • The bodies of Rick and Dori are removed from the scene and transported to Lykes Memorial Hospital for autopsies.


  • MAY 10, 1981
    • Autopsies performed by Dr. William Winters
  • MAY 12, 1981
    • Rick Merrill’s parents receive a call requesting release of his dental records to aid in body identification.

    3 PM
    • Brooksville Police Department deliver dental records to a forensic dentist in Tampa.

    • Investigators meet with the families for the first time.
  • MAY 13, 1981
    1 PM
    • Memorial services are held for Rick Merrill.

    • State Fire Marshal investigator responds to Brooksville to examine Merrill’s vehicle.
  • MAY 14, 1981
    • Investigators meet with Merrill and Colyer families for three hours.
  • MAY 15, 1981
    • Brooksville Police confirm the identities of Rick Merrill and Dori Colyer as the murder victims.
  • MAY 18, 1981
    9:30 AM
    • A "forensic dentist" in Tampa positively identifies the body of Rick Merrill through dental records.

    • Dori Colyer’s body is identified through blood type and jewelry found at the crime scene.
  • AUGUST 1, 1981
    • The deaths of Rick and Dori are declared homicides by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

    • Brooksville Police state there are four suspects in the murders, and they “may have worked together to start the fire." They refuse to divulge any other suspect information, yet give extensive suspect details into another unsolved murder, at the same press conference.

    • Autopsy report states Rick Merrill and Dori Colyer died from smoke inhalation, breathing air so hot it seared their lungs.
  • JANUARY 1983
    • Lead investigator and newly-appointed Brooksville Police Chief Bob Johnson declines to comment when asked by the press if he agrees with Assistant State's Attorney Jimmy Brown's assessment that there isn’t enough evidence to make an arrest in the murders of Rick and Dori.
  • 2018
    • Brooksville Police Department disbands June 1, law enforcement services for Brooksville are transferred to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Rick and Dori's case is assigned to Cold Case Detective George Loydgren.
  • 2022
    • Forty one years later, the murders of Rick and Dori remain unsolved.

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