Jessica Lunsford, Death of a 9-Year-Old
'A Bunch of Cracked-out Individuals'
When detectives arrived at Dorothy Marie Dixon's home, they found Dixon, her boyfriend, and her daughter at home. When asked where John Couey was, the trio said they didn't know and denied that he had been living with them.
Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy would later characterize the residents of that trailer as "a bunch of cracked-out individuals. Just a bunch of druggies."
The detectives did a cursory search of the premises, looking for signs of either Couey or Jessica. Unfortunately they failed to check the closet in the room where Couey had been staying.
Detectives returned to Dixon's home on March 14, a full 19 days after Jessica Lunsford was first reported missing. Authorities were still trying to locate John Couey. They searched the trailer again, and this time they checked the closets but found nothing incriminating. However, in the bedroom where Couey had slept, they found blood on the mattress. Suddenly John Couey's status was elevated to "person of interest."
The search for Couey intensified, but the residents of 6647 Snowbird Court held to their story that they didn't know where he was. He had in fact left the area two weeks earlier, fleeing to Georgia with a bus ticket purchased under an assumed name. It was a one-way ticket to Savannah.