Teryl Lynn Steel Orcutt went missing on Jan 21, 1990. On Jan 28 she was found stabbed to death in a palmetto thicket near Black Creek, Middleburg, Florida. She was just 26 years old. I do not know the exact date of death.
Teryl was stabbed many times in her chest. Her partially clothed body was found by children along a creek bank. Because her body was already decaying, in 1990 the authorities could not make a firm determination if Teryl was raped (continue reading though). She only had on a pair of panties (rolled down to her knees), socks, and sneakers.
On Jan 21, 1990, she had not come home from visiting her boyfriend in Jacksonville. Teryl lived with her mother, Rosie Robinson. Teryl left her boyfriend’s home around 5am. A few hours later, the authorities found her 1989 red Ford Thunderbird. The keys were still in the ignition, the motor was still running, and the headlights were on. The car was neatly parked on the shoulder of Clay County Road 218 West, Middleburg (FL) — about five miles from where her body was eventually found.
The condition of the car, especially the way it was parked, made some investigators believe that Teryl thought she was being pulled over. However, it could easily have been a police impersonator. All it took in the early morning hours was a rotating blue light, a uniform, and some type of badge that could be quickly shown and put away.
The authorities investigated this possibility including several other uniformed services with rotating lights on their vehicles but came up empty-handed. I hope they also checked the forest, fish, and wildlife services.
Inside Teryl’s car, the authorities found her handbag. Her cash and credit cards were still there. Her prescription glasses that she always wore were found about 50 feet away from her car. I wonder if those glasses still exist and if we can check them for touch DNA.
Teryl was a bank manager, divorced from Timothy Orcutt, and had a new boyfriend, Mike Mayland. Authorities investigated them both. Mayland was questioned by investigators and passed a polygraph test. Authorities also ruled out Orcutt. Her mother died from brain cancer on Aug. 21, 1997. She never knew who murdered her child.
In the newspaper (see resources below) I saw that modern DNA testing revealed new evidence. “It was DNA testing of evidence we recovered from her body. It is a good profile that we are working with.” It also said that unfortunately, the National Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) cannot be used to run this profile as it isn’t equipped yet to handle the specialized DNA profile that was found.
In early 2015, the FBI announced that an extra seven loci would be added to the CODIS Core effective January 1, 2017. The seven loci along with the original 13 loci, will become the new CODIS Core Loci. Read more about that here. IF this is the issue it also means that very soon, we can run the profile!
Until that time, police cannot run the discovered profile through the main DNA database for known sex offenders. They have compared it to several law enforcement officers’ profiles including a former state trooper who was convicted of similar crimes shortly after Teryl’s murder. No results.
Police wonder whether whoever attacked Teryl was acting alone or not. There is no evidence that this isn’t a one-man job. The DNA profile can give us some more information there too. If I understand correctly from the newspaper articles, Teryl was petite and slender. Even if she put up a fight, a taller and strong man would be able to dominate her.
Here are my thoughts about this case: there is the possibility that Teryl knew who was in the car behind her. She knew who wanted her to stop and talk. Stabbing is a very personal attack. There is close proximity to your victim and it is hard to believe the attacker did not get her blood on himself.
Maybe this person was someone she had quarreled with before and the argument continued on that road leading to her murder. This may explain why so far no DNA matches were found (aside from the specialized profile we now have). This need not be a repeat offender. This may be someone who never committed another crime.
Rest in peace, Teryl Lynn Steel Orcutt.
Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact the Robbery/Homicide Unit for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office at 904-264-6512 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Police is requesting specific information from the public:
- if you or someone you know was driving in Clay, Duval, St. Johns or Putnam counties, Florida, between December 1989 and January 1990 and someone tried to pull you over, please call the detective and report this information.
- If you were working in law enforcement at the time and remember investigating a complaint of someone trying to pull over another driver, please call.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis. Often more information can be found online or in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.
If you have any thoughts about this case then I encourage you to post them on your own social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) Every time that we mention Teryl’ name online we enhance her digital footprint.
We must make sure that Teryl Lynn Steel Orcutt keeps her web presence if we ever wish to find answers in her case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.
Thank you for remembering Teryl Lynn Steel Orcutt with us.