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Crime Stoppers: Teenager found dead at sexual torture site in woods

10:48 PM, Dec 3, 2010   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - The 19-year-old with the shy smile had only been working at the Lil' General Store on 54th Avenue North for three days.

Cynthina Clements was still becoming acquainted with the daily tasks and routines that come with a new job.  In fact, in the early morning hours of September 1, 1980, she was killing time before the end of her shift.

The teen was writing a letter and working on a crossword puzzle as her midnight to 7 a.m. schedule was winding to a close.

The newspaper delivery man came into the store around 5 a.m. and looked around at the peculiar sight.

The store was empty.

The new girl who had just started the overnight job at the Pinellas County convenience story was gone.  

What seemed even stranger is that Cynthia's purse was still there.  Her notebook was left in the exact same position it was moments before.  Her pencil was there, too.

But Cynthia was missing.

It was a mystery that Pinellas detectives were unable to solve right away.  No one knew where Cynthia was.  The young woman who had just moved from Alabama to Florida disappeared without a trace. 

Sadly, her decomposing body was found more than a month later on October 14 in a wooded area off Belcher and Bryan Dairy Road.

The distance from the convenience store was only four miles.

Detective Michael Bailey talks about where Cynthia's body was found. "There was a long dirt road to get to this. You had to know it was there. This was not normally something you would stumble upon."

Detective Bailey with the Pinellas County Cold Case homicide unit described the murder scene as "bizarre."

"It was an odd crime scene.  This is definitley a sexually driven case, so when someone starts doing this, they don't stop. They continue doing this until they're caught."

Cynthia's body was found buried under pine needles and thick grass. 

"She was partially buried, so I don't know if the person was in a hurry, or that's as far as they got and covered her up with pine needles or that's what they did," said Detective Bailey

But, it was what was next to her that was truly disturbing. 

Detective Bailey tells 10 News, "There was a torture device that was found nearby, actually adjacent to the crime scene."

Cynthia was most likely sexually tortured and battered, then killed and buried. 

Detective Bailey says, "She was killed with some type of device that was put around her neck. She was also bound.  She was found clothed, and her shoes were off."

Detectives believe this was not a random act.

Whoever did this, investigators say, had it all planned out from beginning to end.

There was no way of knowing what was in the wooded area unless that person had come to the site before.

It was simply too remote.

Detectives also believe that Cynthia wasn't the only woman brought out to the wooded area, that other ladies may have been tortured at the site as well. 

Detective Bailey says, "Cynthia was probably terrified berfore she died.  She obviously she knew she was going to be killed after she was kidnapped and taken from the store."

The killer clearly had a taste for torturing women.

"Obviously, she had to be sexually battered and then redressed. I don't know why that was done, you can just tell that it was done."

Detectives believe the murderer had a pattern.

"Once he gets started doing this type of thing, it usually progresses to continue this type of behavior, you know.  It's a very high risk thing to do to take somebody out of a store, transport them in your vehicle and then take them to some type of compound or site, then torture them and kill them," Detective Bailey commented.

Cynthia's killer has never been found.  The person, investigators say, could be dead, in prison or still on the loose. 

One thing is for sure. The person who did this is deeply disturbed and very dangerous."This is somebody who, for lack of a better term, this is their job. This is their way in life they feel about things," said Detective Bailey.

Back in 1980, there was no surveillance video, and no fingerprints were ever found.  The only evidence that was left behind in the wooded clearing was sexual paraphenalia used to torture women, including Cynthia.

Detective Bailey says what he saw at the crime scene was disturbing.  

He told us, "I've been to a lot of murder scenes, and this is a scene that you could tell that this person, this is an ongoing course of conduct bringing people out there."

If you know who killed Cynthia Clements, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.






















Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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