Increased rewards offered for new details on SWFL cold cases

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Hans Morgenstern
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers has increased the reward from $3,000 to $5,000 for any information that leads to the resolution of unsolved cold cases in the region.

There have been roughly 400 unsolved cold cases in Southwest Florida.

Sometimes years, even decades have passed in these cases, and Crime Stoppers believes they can still be solved.

All tips to Crime Stoppers are completely anonymous.

You will never have to give your name, show up in court and if your tip leads to an arrest, you get paid.

Hundreds of families are waiting for closure and counting on you.

Behind every face, every name, every date is a family and loved ones waiting for justice.

In 2011, Prinnis Battle was shot and killed in his vehicle near Cochran Boulevard in Port Charlotte.

His assailants still hadn’t been found.

Then there was Courtney Thomas, who went missing in 2017.

A year later, her body was located in the woods of Alva.

Her killer is still out there.

Mary Optiz will be 17 years old forever.

In 1981, she was shopping at the Edison Mall with her mother.

To date, her body had never been found and neither had her killer.

There are 19 more pages full of cold case fliers.

“Some of these cases are 20, 25, 30 years old and sometimes when these cases kind of fall out of the news cycle, people forget that they’re still unsolved,” said SWFL Crime Stoppers spokesperson Trish Routte.

On Tuesday, Routte announced an increase in reward money for cold cases, all of them, regardless of how high-profile they are.

If your tip leads to an arrest, you could walk away with $5,000.

Paul Dumolo, Lauren Dumolo’s father, expressed his dismay with the number of unsolved murders in our area.

“Makes me sick. That is such a small area. This has to be the highest crime rate in the United States right now. It has to be. I’ve never heard of 400 unsolved murders. It’s such a tiny little area,” said Paul.

Lauren Dumolo, a single mother from Cape Coral was last seen in July 2020. Her body is still missing. Her killer has yet to be found.

It haunted Paul when WINK News anchor Emma Heaton spoke with him 175 days after Lauren disappeared, and it haunts him nearly four years later.

“Because you don’t have that closure, you know, because there was never any. There is no, there’s not a body, there’s not a rest. There’s not, there’s nothing. There’s just one day you’re there. The next day for the last four years, you’re gone,” said Paul.

Paul prays the incentive will help families like his, who wake up every day without answers.

“It shouldn’t even have to take money,” said Paul, “people should do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

“There are folks in our community that have information that can help solve these crimes. For whatever reason, they’ve not chosen to come forward all over all these years,” said Routte.

“These people do not deserve your protection,” Routte added.

Anyone with information about any of these cold cases, or any not listed, can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477. Tips may also be made online or on the P3 Tips app. Tipsters will remain anonymous.

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