Detectives seek tips in 2001 murder

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It's not your typical cold case.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says they know who the two men are that robbed, shot and killed 23-year-old Marco Waters back in 2001.

During the investigation, detectives learned that people in the area believed Willie Clark and John Clark did it -- and that they had bragged about the robbery to others later.

Fourteen years later, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says an unspoken code of silence is what's stopping the family from getting justice.

"These guys ran their mouths," Gualtieri said in a news conference on Friday. "We need the people that heard it from them firsthand to come forward so that we can have that corroboration, substantiate the criminal charges, make those arrests, and importantly, bring closure to the family."

The news conference was held hours before a vigil scheduled Friday night. The family hopes renewed attention on the case will help it come to a close.

Waters' six children -- the oldest just graduated high school -- stood by as family members made pleas for people to come forward.

"Marco had a lot of friends and I know you all, some of you all might know something," said Takethia Barthell, Waters' sister. "It's not being a snitch. It's just leading them into the right direction."

Waters had recently cashed in a tax refund when he was sitting with his girlfriend in front of his sister's Clearwater apartment on February 26, 2001. Witnesses said two men, whose faces were covered, robbed him at gunpoint and took his wallet filled with a few thousand dollars. As they ran off, one of them turned and fired at him, according to detectives.

Willie Clark is serving a life sentence for robbery in the state prison system. John Clark is also serving time in the state pen for robbery, and is scheduled to be released in 2021.

When detectives interviewed the two cousins, they each said the other person did it, according to PCSO.

Gualtieri acknowledged that people may be afraid to come forward for fear of retribution from suspects behind bars who may be talking to people on the outside.

"We'll do whatever we can do to help out those who come forward, but it is about doing the right thing," he said.

The family, along with the Springtime Club, is holding a vigil in the same Clearwater neighborhood where Waters was killed. It will be from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. at Highpoint Family Center, at 5812 150th Avenue North in Clearwater.