Case of double murder, vehicle arson still cold after 38 years

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A chilling double-homicide in Hernando County has haunted loved ones and the community for nearly four decades. May 9 marks 38-years since the gruesome murders and the victims' family members are desperate to crack this cold case.

For Kellie Davidson, the years don’t make it any easier. On May 9, 1981, her older brother, Rick Merrill, and his friend, Dori Colyer, were brutally killed.

“It’s sad, it’s sad,” Kellie said. “They deserved to have a nice life, they deserved to enjoy what we’ve been able to enjoy, and what I’ve been able to enjoy, they deserved that, but they didn’t get that.”

38 years later, Kellie still has newspapers detailing the crime. 

She says she learned more about Rick’s final hours from news articles than she did from investigators.

“What I’ve known from the paper is they were injected with something, thus the car was doused with gasoline and lit on fire,” she said.

Hernando County officials say the pair was last seen around 1 a.m. leaving what used to be the Hilltop Lounge on Broad Street. Around 2:30 a.m. Rick’s car was discovered burning on the side of Stafford Avenue about a mile away. Rick and Dori were dead inside.

“Rick’s vehicle was pulled in about 200 feet, I believe, face forward,” explained Kellie. “So it was as if he actually drove in there.”

Detectives say they have suspects yet, the case went cold. The motive for the crime remains a mystery, tormenting Kellie all these years.

“It’s just not okay, it’s time, it’s time,” she said.

Last year, Kellie launched, a website dedicated to finding answers. She had two large signs put up around town to spark conversation, and now she hopes with the sheriff’s office giving the case a fresh look there might finally be justice after so many years of pain.

“Tried to look at every opportunity that we could to put it back out there again, and to rattle the cage, to shake the tree,” said Kellie. “Come on, somebody’s gotta know something.”

If you know anything about what happened to Rick and Dori, contact the cold case unit at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office at 352-797-3714.