NewsLocal NewsLee County


1997 homicide case moves to trial as jury selection begins

27 year old Keith Jones was brutally murdered inside a motel room on June 19, 1997
Posted at 5:51 PM, Aug 29, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In 1997, 27-year-old Keith Jones was visiting Southwest Florida from Daytona Beach, but he never made it back — he was brutally murdered inside a motel room in downtown Fort Myers.

This murder went as a cold case for decades until the 2019 arrest of Michelle Ashley, aka Michelle Jackson, of Fort Myers.

The trial began Monday with jury selection.

Media was not allowed inside the courtroom while the jury selection process was taking place, however, while in a separate media room, we were able to hear some of the interview processes to pick out the jury.

According to investigators, before Keith Jones was murdered, he served our county in Saudi Arabia and was beginning courses to be an officer for the Boca Raton police force.

That promising future for the veteran came to an end inside a room at the Tides Motel on June 19, 1997.

Ever since, law enforcement has been re-interviewing witnesses and searching for answers.

In 2019 a grand jury met and indicted Michelle Ashley on one count of first-degree felony murder with a firearm.

According to Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, Jones was shot and killed in an apparent robbery after a stop at the Lookers nightclub, where Ashley was working.

When the family was interviewed four years ago, they said they have wanted justice ever since that night in 1997.

"Put yourself in his family's shoes," they told Crime Stoppers at the time. "What would you do, how would you feel? There is one person that’s out there that knows what happened ... you need to come forward and tell the truth."

With one arrest made, Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs said in 2019 that there are additional suspects involved and added, "We will come and find you no matter how old the case."

Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers said Monday they hope during the trial more comes out and someone speaks up about who else is involved.

We are being told this should wrap up by next week.