Crime Stoppers: Teenager raped, run over in orange grove

10:02 PM, Mar 26, 2010   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - Jina Justi never had the chance to get a driver's license.

She would never vote in a national election or toast a glass of champage on her 21st birthday.

The teenager would never grow up to get married and bear children.

Sadly, she died alone in a Palm Harbor orange grove, left face down in a t-shirt and cut-off shorts.  She had been raped, beaten and run over by a car again and again.

She was only 14 years old.

"To have a girl taken, raped, beaten, stabbed with some sort of weird projectile instrument... what else could have happened there?" said Detective Mike Bailey.

Her dark-brown eyes are left in a haunting black and white photograph.

Detectie Mike Bailey told us, "There is DNA evidence in this case, because there was a sexual battery. We're pursuing DNA evidence at this time."

But, the wheels of justice turn slowly.

Jina's story started out as a missing persons case on August 7, 1971 in Hillsborough County.  The teenager left her home that morning to go swimming at a friend's home in Town N' Country.

This was nothing unusual.

"That was a time that people did not worry about their children as they do nowadays," admits Detective Bailey. "She would visit friends, that was the extent of it."

Things were different back then.  People would leave their doors unlocked at night, let their children play freely outside and walk to friends' homes at night.

"When she did not come home at a certain time, her parents became worried and they started checking with friends, and they never saw her again," Detective Bailey said.

Throughout the years, one thing has bothered detectives again and again. How did a bright student like Jina, who came from a good family, end up dead in an orange grove, all the way from her home in Town N' Country?

It just didn't make sense.

Detectives believe someone kidnapped her when she left to play with friends, drove her across county lines and brought her to a Palm Harbor orange grove to die.

"Jina would go to visit her friends that were very localized. She was home at a certain time between 4:00 and 5:00," the detective said.

Jina's parents are now deceased. They never had the chance to see their daughter's killer brought to justice.

Detectives believe there was more than one person involved in the case.  Jina had no history of being a hitchhiker, although someone may have stopped and offered her a ride - not an uncommon practice in the 1970s.

She had no ties to Pinellas County.

If you know anything about the murder of Jina Marie Justi, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

To find out more information about Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County, click here.

Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects

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