On March 17, 1988 Anita Mae Carter Lukander (22) vanished from her Atlantic Beach home in Florida. Her remains were found ten days later. Her case remains unsolved.
When Anita did not report for work, the authorities went to her house. They found her door unlocked and the lights were on.
A few days later they found Anita’s truck in the parking lot of a local bar. The keys were in the ignition. I have not found anything about potential suspects related to the bar or their patrons.
Detective Dave Archer and Dr. Peter Lipkovic, the medical examiner for Duval County, confirmed that her death was a homicide. The cause of death was strangulation. Anita’s hands were bound and she suffered severe mutilations. She was gagged with a white shirt. Anita was identified by her dental records.
Two fishermen found her along the Intracoastal Waterway in Jacksonville Beach, Fl. The authorities are quoted in the papers saying that her body had been in the water for several days.
Anita was a member of the Mayport-based Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 42. She was assigned to shore duty as an administrative clerk in maintenance control. On May 9, 1987, Anita married Petty Officer 2nd Class William “Bill” E. Lukander. He is an electronics technician in the same squadron. As soon as he was notified that Anita had gone missing he flew back to the USA. He was on active duty abroad a frigate.
Lt. Ratish Prasad
Anita went missing just two days after Lt. Ratish Prasad (24) was killed during a robbery aboard the USS Hancock in Mayport on March 15. Prasad was a Navy Paymaster. The killer stole $94’629 from the ship’s safe.
In July 1988, Petty Officer 1st Class Ruben Colon (34) of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Prasad and the robbing of the USS John Hancock. He was dishonorably discharged. A jury of five Navy officers found him guilty of murder, kidnapping, and robbery. They found him innocent on one count of premediated murder.
“Colon was charged with murdering Prasad on March 15 and taking more than $94,000, more than 2,500 blank U.S. Treasury checks and a payroll check for $419 made out to a Hancock crew member. He was arrested April 12 after investigators found more than $87,000 and the blank federal checks in a safe-deposit box rented in his name.”
Prasad was kidnapped from his stateroom at gun point, forced to open the payroll safe, and was then killed in the supply room. His body was found hours later when he was missing at roll call.
Later I found in an article that a Navy spokesperson said that the Prasad and Lukander crimes were not connected. However, most Lukander articles that include the Prasad murder do not mention the conviction in Prasad’s case. That’s why I decided to include it anyway and add the information about Colon.
Peter Johnstone was arrested and charged with Anita’s first-degree murder. Prosecutors said that he had made incriminating statements about the crime early in the investigation. Johnstone had been incarcerated since Aug 1995. He was acquitted in 1997.
The theory was that Anita turned down his advances. She was after all his best friend’s wife. Johnstone too was an aviation electronics technician and part of the same squadron as Anita and Bill. As far as I have been able to find in the public domain, there is no evidence to tie Johnstone to the crime scene.
It is hard to find information online about this case. Many newspaper articles have been taken down and links are broken. I did came across the following.
Sharon Jones is a psychic counselor and states here that Anita did not die from her stab wounds but from strangulation. If she was stabbed then I hope that the murder weapon was found but I have not seen any mention of it online.
UPDATE June 2020: the link to this article seems to be broken but I took screenshots. You see them here.
In the same clip (Taken down now) you can hear that the prosecution said that Anita’s body had been in the water for many days. However, her body didn’t show any attacks by coastal wildlife such as crabs and other marine animals. So had it been in the water for a long time (and if so why didn’t animals attack) or, if not, was Anita maybe held somewhere before being dumped into the water? Where was she murdered?
Anita’s murder remains unsolved. If you have any information that could help the authorities solve this murder please contact the FBI or, call 1-800-225-5324 or, call your local police department referring to the 1988 Anita Lukander murder.
Rest in peace Anita Mae Carter Lukander.