26 years later …
Twenty-six years later and Cape Coral police refuse to give up on an unsolved double murder.
Tuesday marked the anniversary of the city’s tragic Cornell-Story murders. On May 10, 1990, the bodies of Robin Cornell, 11, and Lisa Story, 32, were found in their apartment, at 631 S.E. 12th Ave. Both had been suffocated and sexually assaulted. Robin’s mother, Jan Cornell, found their bodies.
The night before, Story had agreed to watch Robin while Cornell visited with her boyfriend. Cornell returned home the next morning to find her daughter’s naked body on the floor of her bedroom.
Story’s body was discovered in her bed.
Detective Christy Jo Ellis has been working the “cold case” for the last several years.
“We firmly believe that this is solvable,” she said. “It’s just going to take that right information.”
Every year around the anniversary, the CCPD raises public awareness about the case in the hopes of jogging someone’s memory and finally solving it. This year, there will be a digital billboard with details on the murders along College Parkway in Fort Myers, thanks to a donation from Lamar Advertising.
“Just trying to reach out to the community and see if there’s something they know,” she said.
The CCPD will also be running a paid advertising campaign on social media.
Ellis explained that the campaign will help provide the case with nationwide attention as information on the murders pops up in users’ newsfeeds. It is a way for the department to reach people who lived in the Cape around the time of the crime and have moved on, but may remember something if reminded.
Over the years, the double-murder has been featured on “America’s Most Wanted.”
“There are people that still do recall and remember,” she said.
Late last year, the CCPD received a multi-page letter pointing to a possible suspect. The letter writer explained how they always felt it might have been this one person and outlined the reasons why.
“It was probably the most excited that I’ve gotten on any tips or calls that have come in,” Ellis said.
Detectives did the legwork and it seemed to add up, until the DNA results came back.
“It was not our guy,” she said.
But the lead is not completely closed.
“There are still some things we’re looking to do with it,” Ellis said, adding that the former potential suspect may be able to fill in some blanks for detectives around the time of the murders.
“This was just somebody coming forward on their own, so we know it’s still on people’s minds,” she said. “We’re hoping that that’s going to continue. Those are the things that keep us going forward.”
The CCPD has a sample of DNA from the crime scene that it believes belongs to the murderer. The sample has been run through the national database, but no match has been made. If the killer is arrested and a DNA sample is taken, it could be entered into the database and matched to the existing sample.
There were also items taken from the apartment – and left behind.
“We know that at least a watch was taken,” Ellis said.
The 1990 Seiko, which had a white rectangular face and gold band, was a gift from Cornell to her boyfriend. She had it engraved with, “To Randy, Happy Birthday, 5-11-90, All My Love, Lisa.”
A set of Toyota keys, with an Etienne Aigner logo on the key chain, was left at the scene.
“So if anyone knew someone who was missing keys at the time,” she said.
Detectives pinpointed the keys as having belonged to a 1978-88 Corolla, 1970-89 Celica, 1981-90 Landcruiser, 1985-90 MR-2, 1984-89 Supra, 1980-90 Tercel or 1971-88 Toyota pickup truck.
Ellis has maintained a close relationship with Cornell and they discuss the case regularly.
“It is a tremendous advantage having Jan available on speed dial,” she said, noting that she is actively involved. “She is able to recall people from that time and help put pieces of evidence into context.”
If anyone has any information of the case, contact the CCPD at (239) 574-3223.
Submit an anonymous tip at: www.capecops.com or text CCPD, plus your message, to CRIMES (274637). Tipsters can also contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at (800) 780-TIPS (8477).