Twenty-six-year-old Todd McAfee was a corporate farm manager of a 300-acre tomato farm for the Bonita Packing Company in Myakka City, Florida. A company trailer on the property doubled as his home and office. The nearest neighbors were four miles away.
Todd was an avid outdoors man whose primary recreational activity was hunting. It was common knowledge that he kept his weapons in his trailer. Todd’s gun collection was valuable monetarily, but not nearly as valuable as it was to him personally. He collected guns because he liked them and believed his guns would also serve him as a source of protection in the secluded locale. Instead, they likely led to his murder.
At 6:30 A.M. on August 18, 1987, Bonita farmhands were surprised to find that Todd had not unlocked the gate for them. By 7:00 A.M., there was still no sign of him and fear soon set in as the farmhands observed blood stains in Todd’s truck, parked outside the gate.
Shortly thereafter, two miles away, employees discovered his body in one of the tomato fields he managed. He had been shot four times.
The police concluded Todd had been dead for approximately twelve hours before he was found. They believe his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong. Police believe the burglary was in process as Todd arrived home from the grocery store. As he tried to intervene, the panicked assailants ambushed him with their guns, before absconding with nearly all of his guns. Evidence showed Todd had been shot to death outside of his home shortly after exiting his car, which sustained no gunshot damage. After the initial shots, he attempted to get back into his car, leaving the bloodstains. Todd probably knew the people who killed him.
Todd was a big man, standing 6’5 and weighting 215 pounds. Investigators believe more than one person tossed him into the ditch where his body was found. Locals knew that a swamp by the ditch was the home of an alligator and police believe the killers had hoped Todd’s body would be its supper. However, it was discovered before being gobbled by the gator.
A receipt found in the grocery bag in Todd’s truck helped pinpoint the time of his death to between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. At around 6:15 p.m. on the night of August 17, two of his friends passed by the trailer and noticed an orange van parked next to it. The orange van had been seen earlier at a local gas station where a witness recalled seeing two men and a woman near it.
Composites of one of the men and the woman are below.
In 1991, prison inmate Jacob Scott, serving time at the Desoto County Jail, told police he had information about Todd’s murder. Scott had previously been jailed with Ruthie Anderson, who had been Todd’s housekeeper. Her husband Wilbur had also previously worked for Todd.
Scott claimed while he and Ruthie were incarcerated together, Ruthie had told him she had planned the burglary of Todd’s trailer because she believed he kept the company payroll there. Scott went on to say that Ruthie told him Todd was killed after coming upon her, Wilbur, and another man burglarizing his trailer.
Shortly after Scott revealed this information, a man was arrested with a .30-caliber Plainfield semiautomatic rifle which had been stolen from Todd’s home. This man told police he had purchased the gun from Wilbur Anderson. In a Mississippi junkyard, investigators located an orange van matching the description of the one seen at Todd’s home on the night of his murder. The junkyard owner told police Wilbur had sold it to him.
In October of 1994, Ruthie Anderson was charged with the murder of Todd McAfee. Wilbur was charged only with stealing and selling Todd’s guns. However, as the trial was about to begin, Jacob Scott recanted his statements and the case against Ruthie was dismissed. No significant leads have developed since.
Ruthie and Wilbur Anderson later separated. Ruthie is believed to now be living in Mississippi. Wilbur later served a prison sentence in Mississippi for an unrelated robbery case that occurred after Todd’s murder. He was released in 1996 and is now is believed to be living in Alabama. Both have refused any comment about the murder of Todd McAfee.
Police still consider the Andersons persons of interests but have nothing forensically linking them to the murder.
Some of Todd’s stolen handguns were found, but his more valuable shotguns and rifles remain missing.
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• Bradenton Herald (Fl.)
• DeSoto Sun
• Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)
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