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'Spawn of the devil': Help solve an 84-year-old Arcadia woman's cold case

Posted at 8:06 PM, May 16, 2024

ARCADIA, Fla. — Behind every face and every action, there's a name. The search for those names is where the journey begins.

Fox 4's Senior Reporter Kaitlin Knapp is on a mission to get to know the names we know, and perhaps find the ones we don't, along with the detectives working in the same communities you call home.

In Fox 4's new series called "Sunshine Crimes," we are going across southwest Florida to tell the stories of people waiting for justice.

This story, this crime you're about to read has been described as brutal. It's the brutal murder of an 84-year-old woman. The only photo deputies have released is the only one we have, but once you see's hard to get out of your head.

But first, let's go back before the murder. Arcadia, an area with a historic downtown antique district, was ravaged by Hurricane Charley in 2004. It displaced people and sent them into FEMA trailers.

It was in one of those trailers where this story and the search for answers begins.

On March 2, 2006, DeSoto County Sheriff James F. Potter says a brutal and senseless murder happened.

84-year-old Eileen Seymour was found dead in her trailer. She was raped, beaten and strangled.

"Wounds to her arms, to her head that you could see from the photographs," Potter said.

Detectives found an antique tea pitcher with blood on it and a dent. Even a small leg was missing from it.

It's one of two murder weapons. The other weapon, the one they didn't have, is the hands of the killer.

Potter says there's been a big challenge with finding the murderer.

"The lack of information of anybody. Obviously no eyewitness," he explanied.

There was no witness, but there was evidence. They've been sending clues to labs with the hope of cracking the case wide open.

It's a case Potter wasn't around for, but someone else was.

"I had the opportunity to sit down with Eileen's daughter," said Crime Stoppers manager Trish Routte.

She says she remembers Eileen's case vividly. Routte says Eileen survived cancers four times and was a mom.

"There are just no words to describe the horrendous, viciousness of an attack of a very innocent little old lady who meant no harm to anybody," Routte explained.

Shortly after the murder, Routte talked to Eileen's daughter. While she couldn't find her video interview, she did find the transcript of what her daughter said.

"Whoever did this is the spawn of the devil," Eileen's daughter told Routte back in 2006. "She's an 84-year-old woman who's as helpless as a baby."

Where Eileen's trailer stood is now on the lot of an RV park, owned by Brian Schaper.

Though her murder happened 18 years ago, he knows the picture of her, and it's made a lasting impression on him.

"It was really haunting," Schaper said. "The lady just looked like a sweet grandmother, so it just seemed eerie."

It's an eerie feeling for Schaper, but the feeling is different for detectives.

"When you look at her and you just see — just imagine your grandmother, and you see that older lady there, it just reaches down and pulls on the heartstrings," Potter explained.

They are determined to find Eileen's killer, and solve their 11 cold cases with the hope of bringing a family and community closure.

"18 years later and her attacker is still out there," Routte said.

If you have any information about Eileen's case, you're asked to call the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office or Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.