LAKE MARY, Fla. - Sixteen years ago, Sara Wakefield received a call that her big sister was killed in the midst of a bold robbery and kidnapping.
“It gets harder as the years go on. You start to heal and it’s like a wound that just keeps opening. So it’s a very difficult day,” Wakefield said of her sister, Susan Perkins. “I miss her, every day, every day of my life. I feel that emptiness every day.”
Perkins was just 34 years old at the time of her death which was the result of a bizarre series of events that occurred on August 31, 2004. Wakefield explained that the day started just like any other day.
“Susan woke up like all of this morning and she went about her day,” she said.
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She said her sister ended her day by helping a friend tint the windows of a salon she was opening in a small strip mall along Maitland Avenue. Investigators said a strange man walked in with a rifle.
“He made them empty their purses, made my sister drive her car, her vehicle to the bank. They got the money out that they had,” Wakefield said.
After getting the money from the drive-thru ATM, investigators said the suspect forced the two women into the trunk of a car belonging to Perkins, at gunpoint, before leaving them.
“They decided they needed to escape from the trunk of the car and the first thing they did, out on busy State Road 436 near the mall, was wave their hands out the back of the vehicle,” Wakefield explained.
Investigators with the Altamonte Springs Police Department said that Perkins and her friend pulled the trunk release inside the car and made a run for it. The friend ran and hid behind a sign. As Perkins was trying to escape, she fell and hit her head.
“She never regained consciousness after that,” Wakefield said.
Perkins left behind two sons, just 9 and 13 at the time.
The suspect still hasn’t been caught. The only description detectives have is that he is a black man. He was never seen on the bank’s camera and results from DNA and fingerprint samples were inconclusive.
Wakefield said this case haunts her every day -- that 16 years later, no one knows the identity of the man who faces charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and homicide. She’s begging for help.
“The fact that nobody has come forward with any type of information just stuns me to this day. There’s somebody out there who knows something, and I just want them to come forward today,” Wakefield said.
Altamonte Springs Police say there is a Crimelime reward available in this case. If you know anything, you can leave a tip anonymously at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).