Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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John Evander COUEY





Jessica Lunsford was last seen alive on the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2005. Her grandparents picked her up from the school bus stop in Homosassa, Fla. On the way home, they stopped at a Sonic restaurant to buy curly fries for Jessica before she went to Bible class. Family friend Sharon Armstrong brought her home that evening, and she watched television until her grandmother tucked her into bed at 9 p.m.



The next morning, Jessica was missing. Her bedroom and the rest of the rooms in her grandparents' trailer were undisturbed, except for a purple stuffed dolphin that her father had won for her at the county fair four days earlier that was also missing.



Jessica's clothes for school, which she had laid out in her room the night before, were untouched.



Authorities launched a massive investigation that included questioning of sex offenders in the area. They could not account for John Couey, who had fled to Georgia. When they located him, the mechanic allegedly confessed to abducting Jessica and told investigators they would find her behind the trailer he shared with relatives.



By the time Couey spoke to investigators, his sister, Dorothy Dixon, had already granted authorities permission to search the single-wide trailer where she and Couey lived with her boyfriend, daughter and her daughter's husband.



In the search, investigators seized several items of evidence from Couey's room that revealed trace evidence linking Jessica to the middle bedroom of the trailer. The items proved invaluable to the prosecution's case against Couey, especially after a judge suppressed Couey's confession, ruling that police violated his Miranda rights.



On the afternoon of March 18, 2005, authorities began digging behind the trailer in search of Jessica's body. The excavation continued into the morning of March 19, when authorities found her body buried in a garbage bag.



Prosecutors in Couey's capital murder trial introduced the two black plastic garbage bags into evidence. Jessica's right index and middle fingers were poking out of the bags, which were knotted at her feet and her head.



Jurors in Couey's trial also viewed the purple stuffed dolphin that Jessica was clutching when she was removed from the bag. Prosecutors did not remove the dolphin from the bag because of its condition.



The jury also saw the stereo speaker wire that was used to bind Jessica's wrists. A fiber analyst testified that the ligatures matched wires that ran from inside Couey's room to a makeshift antenna on his roof.



A DNA analyst with the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement testified that she matched Jessica's DNA profile to two smears of blood found on Couey's mattress, along with another stain, which was a mixture of Couey's semen and her DNA.



DNA analyst Roshale Gaytmenn also testified that she found the DNA profiles of Jessica and Couey on pillows that investigators seized from Couey's room.



Investigators used this fingerprint identification card to match Jessica's prints
to items of evidence seized from Couey's room.



The property line of the Lunsford home was located just 60 yards from the property
line of the Snowbird Court trailer where Couey lived with his relatives.



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