Nearly a decade after the unsolved murder of Lila Leach, a billboard has been unveiled in Newberry listing a new reward and updated information about the cold case.
On Thursday, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and Leach’s family members unveiled the new billboard, located near the Park-and-Ride Lot on West Newberry Road.
In July 2010, 96-year-old Leach was attacked inside her Newberry home and died later as a result of the injuries she sustained.
The large sign displays a photo of Leach wearing a floral blouse and reclining in a wooden chair. In bold, red lettering, the billboard reads: “Victim of Murder.”
Sgt. Frank Kinsey, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said he hopes the billboard raises awareness about the case.
The billboard lists the reward amount at $8,000, but Kinsey said it was recently increased to $10,000. He said the sign will be updated in a few days to reflect this.
“The billboard has the power to generate conversation in Newberry,” Kinsey said. “We hope it will challenge someone to do the right thing.”
During Thursday’s press conference, ACSO Sheriff Sadie Darnell revealed that advances in DNA technology have allowed the sheriff’s office to narrow their search. She said investigators now have enough information to eliminate 19 suspects.
Leach’s daughter Elaine May was present at the conference and encouraged anyone with information about the case to come forward. She said this billboard is the third one they’ve put up for her mother.
May said Leach was lively, feisty, funny and loved to watch travel programs. She was the “ringleader of the family,” she said.
May said she’d like a chance to talk to the perpetrator and let them know that they can come forward and share their side of the story.
“If someone came forward, we could all begin to do some unburdening,” May said. “I know my mother has forgiven him. I know I have forgiven him.”
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Kevin Allen at 352-384-3323.
Contact Sarah Mandile [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sarahmandile.