Florida Cold Case Detectives travel to Lenoir, NC & Kingsport, TN to investigate a 1988 Florida Murder

Charlotte County, FL – April 14, 2023

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Detectives visit Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina in search of answers in the 1988 cold case murder of Robert Hecht.

On Saturday night, 11/26/1988, Charlotte County, Florida resident Robert Hecht, a 58-year-old, non-married, retired US Army officer, originally from New York, was seen at a local Punta Gorda, Florida bar with a white male, who identified himself as “Ray”.

“Ray” told witnesses they encountered that he was from Tennessee and Kentucky, and “Ray” spoke with a southern accent.

On Sunday morning, 11/27/1988, Robert Hecht failed to respond to his weekly telephone call from his out-of-state sister.  This ultimately led to the discovery of Robert Hecht’s body found inside his Punta Gorda, Florida residence on Rio Togas Rd, the obvious victim of murder.

Detectives would later learn that on Monday morning, 11/28/1988, between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM, the brand new 1989 Lincoln Town Car owned by victim Robert Hecht, was observed parked in Lenoir, NC near Lowell’s Food Market on East Harper Ave.

1989 Lincoln Town Car 12/1/1988 on Main St. Lenoir, NC

Witnesses told detectives that a white male of similar description to “Ray” was observed exiting the 1989 Lincoln Town Car and entering the store.

A white female with long blonde hair was also observed in the passenger seat of the stolen car.

On Thursday, 12/1/1988, Lenoir, NC Police discovered the victim’s car parked on Main Street in Lenoir, NC and it appeared to have been parked for several days.

Exhaustive investigative effort was without resolve and this case was eventually assigned to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit in 2009 when this unit was formed, dedicated to focus on unsolved murder cases in Charlotte County, Florida.

In 2022, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit Detectives determined the identity of “Ray” as Kenneth Ray Miller who died in 2007 in his mid-50s.

Investigation established a direct connection between Kenneth Ray Miller, the victim’s residence and the victim’s stolen car found in Lenoir, NC shortly after this murder.

Kenneth Ray Miller is believed to have been born in Kentucky and lived in Kingsport, Tennessee with his mother and other family members.

Cold Case Detectives are actively looking to determine why the victim’s car was driven to, and left on Main St. in Lenoir, NC. They are attempting to identify and speak with the white female with long blonde hair that was with Kenneth Ray Miller inside the victim’s stolen vehicle, in Lenoir, NC.  This female may also have ties to the Kingsport, TN area.

Detectives strongly believe that this female can assist in this murder investigation, and they have no reason to believe that this female is involved in the murder. Cold Case Detectives are seeking for any information from the public regarding Kenneth Ray Miller and the identification of the female seen with Miller in Lenoir.

During the initial investigation a local person was identified as a potential suspect due to a set of circumstances that could not be explained. Detectives believe most of these circumstances can be explained and a future interview with this person will probably explain the rest. Detectives will need to complete this part of the investigation before we are able to close this case. When activities in North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky are complete, we will interview this person.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this case will be be closed with this dedicated team of detectives leading the charge. With nearly a decade and a half of experience between the three, our agency is lucky to have Kurt Mehl, Mike Vogel, and Mike Gandy looking out for our community and the families connected to these cold cases, boasts Sheriff Bill Prummell.

To preserve the integrity of the investigation we are not releasing the cause of death at this time. Once this case is closed we will release more details of the investigation and be available to answer additional questions.