COLD CASE: Walton County deputies still investigating 1971 murder

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DARLINGTON, Fla. (WMBB) – An unsolved murder from 1971 has Walton County officials still searching for answers.

The then 31-year-old Bobby Ray Jones bartended, managed and lived at the Lone Branch Bar in Darlington with his wife, Betty Jones.

In the early morning of September 30, the bar was closed, and the two were staying in the back of the building.

Bobby left the room to answer a knock on the door. Betty stayed behind in the bedroom, but what she heard brought her to the door as well.

“Bobby Ray opened the door. There was some conversation. She remembers hearing just a little bit of some type of a noise. And then she heard a gunshot,” investigator Steve Sunday said. “She waited just a few seconds because she didn’t know what was really going on. Then she came out, heard the door close and she finds Bobby Ray Jones laying in this area right here taking his last breath.”

The bar closed since the incident and was transformed into a church. But investigator Steve Sunday says the inside of the building hasn’t changed much. Even the bricks that lined the bar in the seventies are still intact today.

“Yep, if these bricks could talk,” Sunday said.

The gunman was able to flee the scene fast enough, never to be found.

“You know, we need answers. We’d like to give his family some answers,” he said. “You know, whatever we do won’t bring him back. But it can give that family some peace, and that’s what we hope to accomplish.”

Next month will mark 48 years since Jones was shot and killed. And, unfortunately, that also means most of the informants involved in the case have since passed away.

But News13 was able to track down his brother, Charles Jones, and speak with him.

“Bobby Ray was just a fun, loving person. I would have never thought that he had any enemies that would want to do that,” he said. “But I would like to see the person that could hate my brother. I’ve long-since forgiven them. I would just like for them to look me in my eye and tell me why they wanted to do that to him. And it may be that the person who done this has already passed away themselves, but someone, someone knows, you know, who done this.”If you have any information, you’re asked to share it with the Walton County Sheriff’s Department.

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