A former youth pastor has been convicted of the 1994 murder and dismemberment of a teenage boy he was once a foster father to in Florida.
The family of the 16-year-old victim, Fred Laster, said in a statement they “never gave up hope” someone would pay for the crime.
“This has been a long, emotional road and we are grateful there is finally justice for Fred,” loved ones noted.
The victim’s torso was missing the head, legs and hands when it was discovered behind a dumpster at a BP gas station in Lake City on June 5, 1994, and it would take decades for detectives to give the slain child a name.
Investigators finally determined Laster’s identity through DNA tests in 2016 — around two years after his twin sister saw information about the case on the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and contacted the organization.
Hyde, who had known the Laster family since the mid-1980s, was identified as a suspect in the boy’s murder and police learned he was the last person to have been seen with the child before he went missing.
DNA found on a bloody shirt near Laster’s body was a match with Hyde’s profile, prosecutors said in court.
In 2017, authorities searched Hyde’s Jacksonville Beach home and placed him under arrest, charging him with first-degree murder and over two dozen child pornography counts.
Hyde denied in court he killed Laster. “Oh no, I never hurt that kid,” he insisted during trial, testifying that in early June 1994 he grew “concerned” because the teenager was in Laster’s car but jumped out on a Nassau County highway and then vanished.
Hyde faces separate court proceedings for the child pornography charges against him, according to The Florida Times-Union.