JOSEPH RONALD "RON" SAPP: Shot and killed near Columbia County Fairgrounds - Lake City, FL - 15 April 1983

(From Jessie Box, Suwannee Democrat, October 2017)


Joseph Ronald Sapp of Live Oak was found shot in the head multiple times at the rear of the Columbia County Fair Grounds on April 15, 1983.

According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, no significant leads have been made since that time.

A 1983 interview with a nearby resident revealed a car fitting the description of Sapp’s 1979 Ford Fairmont drove into the ball complex at the fairgrounds, both doors opened, three to four shots were fired, both doors opened again and the car proceeded out of the complex, according to CCSO.

Several hours later, Sapp’s car was found abandoned in the wooded area at the rear of Fat Man’s Bar B Cue off of U.S. Highway 90.

The report states the crime scene proved futile for any additional information other than the tire tracks, two bullet projectiles, foot tracks and information obtained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab.

A search of the area where the vehicle was found revealed a knit cap that belonged to Sapp’s young son and a welder’s shirt.

Public Information Officer Sgt. Murray Smith said many folks have been interviewed but no one seems to know what took place.

Smith said the case is still actively being investigated. In 2012, a new detective was assigned to the case and DNA was sent to be retested since technology has advanced in that area since the murder.

The results did not bring about any leads, according to CCSO.

“No law-enforcement agency wants cases to go unsolved, and we have certainly not given up,” Smith said. “Some cases are not clear cut and require time and effort.

“This is a challenging case but we want justice," he said, vowing to keep looking for the killer.

Sapp was an employee of Occidental, now PCS Phosphate, in White Springs for eight years prior to his death.

The day of his death, Sapp withdrew a large sum of money from his bank account and made calls at work to procure building supplies for the construction of a new home that was to start the next day.

According to the CCSO, Sapp called his wife at 3:37 p.m. and said he was going to the construction site after work and called again at 4:30 p.m. saying he would be working overtime.

The report states he got off work at 3:30 p.m., left Occidental around 4:30 p.m., left the bank around 5 p.m. and was seen making a small purchase at the Thriftway at 5:30 p.m. in Live Oak.

CCSO could find no one else who saw Sapp after 5:30 p.m.

Anyone with any information on the case is asked to contact Detective Sgt. Jimmy Watson at 386-752-9212.

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