Fort Myers church mourns slain congregant

Photographer: Chris Grisby
Published: Updated:
Photo via Covenant Presbyterian Church directory.
Photo via Covenant Presbyterian Church directory.

FORT MYERS, Fla. Jo Ann Leasure’s memory echoed throughout the halls of Covenant Presbyterian Church on Sunday.

And so did calls for justice as the congregation gathered days after an arrest was made in the murder of the 77-year-old North Fort Myers woman. Suspect Brett Pleasant, 51, of Fort Myers, is being held without bond and faces second-degree murder and robbery charges.

“I have no clue why he picked her, but it was a despicable act of violence, said Pat Arner, a member of the Covenant congregation, “and I’m so glad the sheriff’s department has caught him.”

Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno addressed the congregation about the case, which began when Leasure was found dead June 21 at the Parkway Apartments in North Fort Myers.

“We took a very, very bad guy off the streets,” Marceno said. “You can rest well that we’ll never stop until there’s closure.”

The grief was palpable at the church on McGregor Boulevard where Leasure had left an indelible mark. She’s remembered as a leader near and far — Leasure served two terms as a councilwoman in Palmyra, New Jersey.

“She was an inspiration, she was an example, she was a church leader, she was a church pillar, and she was a friend,” Arner said.

The pain intertwined with joyful memories Sunday. Della Bovey, another member of the Covenant Congregation, recalled going to get her ears pierced with Leasure.

“And when I put my ear rings on this morning, it was a reminder of Jo Ann in my life again,” Bovey said.

Leasure’s funeral is scheduled for July 14 at the church.

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