After 50 years, Clearwater police hope to crack city's oldest cold case

It was a brutal double murder, but no witnesses or weapon were ever found. 

After decades, Clearwater police hope to crack the city's oldest unsolved homicide.

Nick and Demetra Jeatran retired to Florida from Wisconsin. The elderly couple lived on Jackson Road. 

Three-doors down, Charlotte Poutre says they were great neighbors.

"They were just really nice, lovely people," she said. "Every now and then I’ll remember them and say a little prayer."

The yellowed investigative files at the Clearwater Police Department give away the age of the case. Detective Joseph Ruhlin says on Christmas Eve 1968, friends of the Jeatrans made a grisly discovery.

"We found the couple, they were beaten inside their home," said Ruhlin.

Newspaper articles printed about the crime reported 74-year-old Demetra, who went by Jane, was dead when officials got there. Her 82-year-old husband was barely alive. Nick passed away at the hospital a few days later.

"At that time the theory was it possibly was a burglary, and maybe they saw the person come in and the person attacked them," Ruhlin said.

Over the years, investigators developed other theories besides it being a burglary gone bad. Maybe the violent beating was over a business dispute, or the killer knew the couple.

Police never zeroed in on a suspect, and never found the murder weapon.

"There was a couple people that were looked at but nothing ever panned out,” said Ruhlin. “Some neighbors were looked at, yard man was looked at, nothing ever came to fruition."

Out of the city's 23 unsolved homicides, the Jeatran case is the oldest. This Christmas Eve marks 50-years since the couple was brutally murdered inside their home.           

Committed to finding the killers, detectives have never let the case go cold.

"Recently I went down to property and evidence and I cut up the rug that was under them to find more fibers,” Ruhlin said. "The phone was moved, I had the back of that cutout, we really went in there to get DNA evidence."

He admits time is not on their side, but investigators plan to submit some of this new evidence for analysis and hopefully get a break in the case. 

Closure loved ones, police and neighbors would love to have.

"I would like to see them get the murderer who did it, and why did they do it," Poutre said.

"Hopefully somebody will see it that maybe knows something, has been afraid to talk, realizes it's been 50-years,” said Ruhlin. “Maybe somebody will come forward and tell us what happened."

If you know what happened to Nick and Jane Jeatran, you could be eligible for a reward. An anonymous donor is offering $5,000 for information and you could get up to $3,000 through crime stoppers if your tip leads to the arrest of a suspect.