Youth Pastor Arrested for Murder of Teen Attempted to 'Counsel' Grieving Church Members

( [email protected] ) Mar 10, 2017 09:46 AM EST
A youth pastor known for "counseling young boys with problems" was arrested this week for allegedly dismembering a teen 23 years ago.
Ron Hyde was arrested for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Fred Laster WJAX-TV

A youth pastor known for "counseling young boys with problems" was arrested this week for allegedly dismembering a teen 23 years ago.  

According to Action News Jax, Ronnie Leon Hyde, now 60, was arrested last week for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Fred Laster. Hyde, who was affiliated with Crosswater Community Church in the Jacksonville, Florida area, met Laster at church in the 1980s, and the two became friends.

Laster was last seen with Hyde, and police later found the teen's torso and other bloodied items in a dumpster in Lake City, Florida. Laster's sister filed a missing person's report in 1995. In 2016, DNA evidence confirmed the torso found in the dumpster was Laster's.

According to Hyde's arrest warrant, Laster's sister told police, "Ron always wanted to take up his time with young male boys with problems."

After murdering the teen, Hyde reportedly attempted to counsel grieving members of the church, and on his Facebook page posted multiple messages about child abuse. He also checked into the Crosswater Community Church as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 

"It shouldn't hurt to be a child," Hyde's Facebook page said on Oct. 13. "Let's end child abuse and domestic violence."

Darlene Farah, one of Hyde's Facebook friends, told reporters he messaged her and offered to help her 16-year-old son cope with the loss of his friend.

"He wanted to counsel all of us. That was the first message," said Farah. "He mentioned like two, three times he could help me with my son."  

She added, "I can't help but think he was trying to target my son. My son was 16 years old when Shelby got killed...When you go through a tragedy like this and people reach out to you, don't trust everybody. I'm thankful I didn't even respond back to him."

The FBI reports Hyde is also a named suspect in a previous international child exploitation investigation, and Action News Jax crime and safety expert and former FBI Agent Dale Carson said he fears there may be other victims.

"We are obviously concerned about what happened 23 years ago. We're concerned whether there were victims prior to that. There may well have been victims after that," Carson said.

Crosswater Community Church lead pastor Jack Millwood released a statement saying the church had spoken to the FBI and would "fully cooperate" in the investigation. "I am personally not aware of any victims of Ron Hyde that involve anyone associated with Crosswater Community Church," the pastor said. "If any person or persons has any information regarding potential victims of Ron Hyde, please contact the local FBI directly."

He continued, "Our main concern, as always, is to help people and victims in our area..our thoughts and prayers go out to any victims of any crimes."

Millwood added that because this is an ongoing investigation, the church will not offer any further comments.

Tags : Crosswater Community Church, Ron Hyde, Ronnie Hyde, church, mental health, teen