Who Killed Mark Brotherton? New Details On The 1971 Unsolved Murder Of Lake City Gas Station Owner

Photo: FirstCoastNews
Who Killed Mark Brotherton? New Details On The 1971 Unsolved Murder Of Lake City Man

On July 30th, 1971, a gas station robbery went wrong, and the owner was killed instantly. But who killed Mark Brotherton?

Despite the advances in the way we, as Americans, solve our crimes — improved investigative techniques, improved interrogation standards, and of course, DNA technology — a new report released by the Washington Post suggests that nearly half of all murders in the United States go unsolved every year. And this is to say nothing of the so-called “backlog” of “cold cases” whose evidence has gone missing, or is otherwise deemed unusable, over the years.

The unsolved 1971 murder of Mark Brotherton — who was killed in a small town just outside of Jacksonville, FL — is one such example of a cold case that has no leads, no prospects, and no idea of where to even begin.

Let’s look at what we know about the Mark Brotherton case.

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1. The facts of the case have remained the same since 1971.

Unlike many cold cases — whose “facts” change over the years — the details of this case have remained the same for more than 40 years. According to Columbia Crime Stoppers, on July 30, 1971, two black men walked into Standard Oil Service Station in Lake City, Fl. at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Highway 441 North, with the intent to rob the place. The two perpetrators took Mark Brotherton and another customer into an office area, where they shot each of them in the leg. While the customer survived his injuries, Mark Brotherton did not.

2. The customer told the police what he knows — but it didn’t seem to help the police with any leads.

According to News4Jax, the customer who was shot in the leg said that he was at the gas station after his car broke down. He was towed to the station by what he called “two long haired boys driving a Volkswagen van." He went on to describe the van — “cream colored with black curtains and a Budweiser label in the back window” — but said that the two “long haired boys” were not responsible for shooting him and Mark Brotherton. The police were looking for the two “long haired boys” as witnesses, but so far, they haven’t turned up.

Police have no leads on the Mark Brotherton murder. 

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3. Despite the information they have, police have given no hope to Mark Brotherton’s family.

Mark Brotherton was an Army veteran who served in World War II under General Patton and was a founding member of a local United Methodist church. Yet, even though he led a “good” life, his murder remains unsolved.

That’s why Mark Brotherton’s daughter, Laura Collins, has teamed up with Project: Cold Case to see if they can find any additional information that will lead to an arrest and a conviction for the men who murdered her father.

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“I can’t imagine after all this time that somebody hasn’t told the story to someone, somebody hasn’t confessed to someone,” Collins told First Coast News. “I just want to know what were you thinking in your heart at that moment. What were you thinking at that moment, you changed so many people’s lives at that moment. I have three sons and six grandchildren. My older brother has a daughter and 2 granddaughters. My other brother has 2 daughters and a granddaughter and my father never got to see any of this.”

At the time of Mark Brotherton’s murder, I-10 was an incomplete highway. This fact has led police to believe that his murderers were local to the area.

Anyone with any information that will lead to an arrest and conviction of the men who murdered Mark Brotherton is urged to call 386-758-1314  or CrimeStoppers of Columbia County at 386-754-7099. A reward may be available.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.