DARLENE MESSER: Store Clerk Abducted During Shift In Lake City, FL on September 18th, 1989; Found Dead In Swift Creek, Union County on September 20th


Darlene Messer was working the night shift at the Suwannee Swifty convenience store in Lake City, Florida on September 18th, 1989. Shortly after a group of correctional officers departed the store around 12:55am, she was abducted. She put up a hell of a fight, as the store was cluttered and things were knocked down. A trail of money led to the parking lot. It was as if the motive was not robbery; however a few items from the store was noted to be missing (cigarette lighters, etc.).

Though the Columbia County Sheriffs Office made heavy efforts to locate Darlene, her remains were located on September 20th, 1989 in Swift Creek, Union County; about 15 minutes SE of the Suwannee Swifty Store she worked at. Her remains were discovered by a passing railroad conductor who waved down a Florida Highway Patrol Officer when he realized what was in the water. A publicly unidentified male was held for questioning in relation to the case; however, the evidence investigators had was not strong enough to hold him. A number of other suspects came to light in the case; however no arrest has been made, nor has a motive clearly been identified. Her case was briefly mentioned in an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" in 1991 when Deborah Poe's case was featured.

Crimestoppers of Columbia County is offering a $1000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest. Should you have information, call Crimestoppers at 386-754-7099. You will remain anonymous. A former native of Calgary, Alberta Canada, she left behind a 16-year old daughter named Angela, who lives near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She was also married to Charles Messer, a death row inmate who was convicted--ironically--of murdering a convenience store clerk in West Florida. He has been ruled out regarding this case. She moved to Florida in 1987 to be closer to him.

Darlene Messer Sign.jpg

staff added media link: DARLENE MESSER was abducted & murdered from the convenience store where she worked in 1989. #FLORIDA #UNSOLVED
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Jason Futch

Well-known member
Jeni Decker, a friend of mine, whom I met through her detailed coverage of Darlene's case on her podcast "Down and Away". She details the case, and also discusses the possible suspects involved in her case. She has, for the most part, hid the true identities of these POI's since they haven't been convicted of the crime.

You can find her podcast episodes on Darlene here: S8 Episode 1: Darlene Messer – Down and Away
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Jason Futch

Well-known member
Newspaper articles from the Lake City Reporter on Darlene's case. I ripped these from the microfilm room at Florida Gateway College.


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Jason Futch

Well-known member


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Jason Futch

Well-known member
It looks like her murder rock the area in the day. I’ve never heard of this cold case before. Thank you for showcasing it!
You are welcome Kimster! I am preparing to do an in-depth examination of her case in a new podcast I am starting for my local area called "Suwannee Valley Unsolved". It's been a rollercoaster doing my homework on her case and getting to know her daughter Ang Teney. It's just draining sometimes.

Jason Futch

Well-known member
Here is a photo album from the Down and Away Facebook page regarding crime scene photos from the bridge (no remains) and the convenience store. Just seeing the photos from the store indicates that Darlene put a serious fight up against her attacker(s). It can be said that she definitely didn't go down without a fight.


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