Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Story leads to identification of Bradenton hit and run victim

Former Miami Herald crime reporter Edna Buchanan once said, "Putting it in the newspaper works."

That held very true on Saturday when I was out covering a minor crash on the DeSoto Bridge. I had just started my shift, heard about backed up traffic ("like a parking lot," an officer said) on the scanner, and headed over to check it out.

Bradenton police Sgt. Eddie Weldon filled me in on the details of the collision. He then told me about a fatal hit and run in the early hours of Saturday in the 1700 block of 17th Avenue West.

There were no witnesses. No description of the car. And what's more, the victim, pronounced dead at the scene, couldn't be identified. Police couldn't find an I.D. on him and his fingerprints didn't come up on their database, Weldon said.

But the unknown man had several tattoos. Weldon sent me photographs of the victim's inked arms and chest. I described the most unique ones -- a heart with the name "Cathy" and a skull wearing a cowboy hat -- in the brief that ran the next day.

The man's family read the brief, called Weldon, and identified the victim as 46-year-old William Ray Perri. 

Buchanan knows what she's talking about. She has a Pulitzer Prize to prove it.

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