August 11, 2008
Valrico Family Relieved With Case Closed
“I would have liked to have seen his face, seen him in court, but God has served justice. And now we can turn the page,” said mother Imogene Richardson at a recent press conference where the 11-year-old homicide of her daughter, Erica, was recently solved and the murderer found to have been dead for almost the same amount of time.
For the past 10 years, the boyfriend wanted for questioning in the brutal murder has been been in a Louisiana morgue.
Erica Richardson was a 33-year-old Valrico resident who worked as a pharmacist at a local Wal-Mart and was found on her living room floor dead 11 years ago.
Richardson had everything going for her. She earned a degree in microbiology from the University of Florida and had completed post-graduate work in pharmaceuticals from Howard University, graduating magna cum laude. She was looking for someone to share her life with when she met electrical technician John Milton Feiga. Erica was shy and dated infrequently, while Feiga had a reputation as a lady’s man, but they hit it off right away.
Her estranged boyfriend, John Fiega, the suspect, and her car were missing from her house.
The story had been featured on Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted. Feiga had been profiled by local agency Crime Stoppers.
The car was found in Lafayette, Louisiana, but Feiga was nowhere to be found. His whereabouts are finally known. In 1998, a tugboat found a body in the Atchafalaya River in St. Mary Parish. For the last ten years, Feiga has been an unknown, or “John Doe”, body at the St. Mary Parish Coroner’s Office. In June of this year, Feiga’s DNA was searched in a computer software system known as CODIS, or the Combined DNA Index System, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) managed system. Blood from Erica Richardson’s crime scene was resubmitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Crime Lab to be entered into one of these indexes (the Forensic Index).
In Louisiana, two laboratories had been entering DNA samples from Louisiana into the Unidentified Human Remains Index, one of which was from the “John Doe” profile from St. Mary Parish. The DNA from the crime scene and the unidentified remains were a match. Dental records from the U.S. Army confirmed that it was Feiga.
“Erica and I were close,” her mother, Imogene said with tears in her eyes. “She wasn’t just my daughter, she was my friend.”
When Imogene found out about Feiga, she said she was happy and she was sad. “I was happy he was found,” she said.
One of Erica’s two remaining brothers present at a recent Hillsborough County Sheriff’s press conference regarding the solving of the case, Daryl said, “Your life changes drastically. Nothing is ever the same. Day in and day out you think about her. Smell her perfume. Think about her every day.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Colonel Gary Terry said, “Everyone forgets except the family and the detectives.”
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Website, the Hillsborough County Homicide Section records reveal 165 homicides remain on the cold case list.
“I thank God that he is gone. He will never be at large to take another life.”
For more information on this case, visit the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Website at www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.