Details of Disappearance
Keith was last seen while on his way home from his girlfriend's house in Cocoa Beach, Florida on April 28, 1977. His parents had dropped him off at the girlfriend's residence, who north of his own, after school and he was supposed to be back home for dinner.
He left the residence with his girlfriend and they rode on her bicycle to the end of Osceola Street at State Road A1A. Keith got off and said he was going to hitchhike the rest of the way home, which was a common practice by Cocoa Beach residents at the time.
When she found he was going to hitchhike, Keith's girlfriend's mother went back out to get him so she could take him home herself. By the time she arrived at the spot where his girlfriend had left him, though, he was gone. He never arrived home and has never been heard seen or heard from again.
John Rodney McRae is the prime and only suspect in Keith's case. A photograph of him is posted with this case summary. McRae murdered and dismembered an 8-year-old Michigan boy in the 1950s, when he was only sixteen. He served twenty years in prison for the crime.
From 1976 to 1980, he worked as a guard at the Brevard Correctional Institution in Florida; the institution houses mostly teenagers. While McRae was working there, three local boys disappeared. One of them was a 20-year-old inmate, Charles Collingwood
, who escaped from the prison shortly after allegations were made that he had an inappropriate relationship with McRae.
McRae is considered a suspect in that case, and also in the 1979 disappearance of 12-year-old Kipling Hess
, an acquaintance of McRae. Neither of the boys were ever found. Police say Keith's disappearance fits the profile of McRae's crimes, and McRae himself admitted that he liked to watch young boys at Cocoa Beach. Keith frequently surfed at that location.
McRae was convicted of the 1987 murder of a 14-year-old boy, Randy Ray Laufer. His conviction was later overturned on appeal, but he was convicted again in May 2005 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 70 years old and wheelchair-bound at the time of the retrial, he was found in his cell only two weeks later, dead of intestinal ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Investigators strongly believe that McRae committed more murders than he was convicted of, including the murders of Kipling, Keith and Collingwood. They even offered him immunity from prosecution if he would reveal where the boys' bodies were, but he always maintained his innocence. His wife, however, stated he had admitted the Hess and Collingwood murders to her.
Keith enjoyed rock music, biking and surfing, and frequented the the Cocoa Beach Pier in 1977. He is the youngest of three sons. He attended Roosevelt Middle School and was also going to counseling at Alternatives, a drug therapy center; his parents made him go after they caught him with marijuana.
His mother and brothers still live in the Cocoa Beach area and are still looking for him; his father has since died. Some have criticized the investigation into his disappearance, saying police were lax in following up leads and conducted only a perfunctory search for Keith. The girl who last saw him was interviewed only once, in 1993. Keith case remains unsolved.