Keith Dean Fleming

1 2 AP
Left and Center: Keith, circa 1977;
Right: Age-progression to age 49 (circa 2012)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: April 28, 1977 from Cocoa Beach, Florida
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: September 18, 1963
  • Age: 13 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'0, 90 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Blond hair, brown eyes. Keith's left leg was previously fractured. He wore a partial upper front plate at the time of his 1977 disappearance, because his two front teeth had been lost in an accident. He has full lips. Keith's hair had been trimmed prior to his disappearance and was shorter than in the photographs shown above.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A t-shirt, thong sandals and a gold chain with an Italian horn.
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    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 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. Then 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. 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 below 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, five local boys disappeared. One of them was a 19-year-old inmate, Charles Collingwood, who disappeared 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.

    Keith enjoyed surfing and frequented the the Cocoa Beach Pier in 1977. His mother and brother 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.

    McRae
    Above: McRae in 2005

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Cocoa Beach Police Department
    305-783-4911

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Child Protection Education Of America
    Florida Today
    The Detroit Free Press
    Michigan Attorney General's Office
    The Morning Sun
    The Detroit News

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    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated November 3, 2013; age-progression updated.

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