October 22, 1976
Broward County, Florida
James Franklin Rose bludgeons his former girlfriend’s 8-year-old daughter
Rose had dated Lisa’s mother, Barbara Berry, in the past, but she broke off the relationship due to Rose’s frequent bouts of jealousy over the male patrons of the bowling alley in which she worked. On October 22, Rose and Lisa were seen together at the bowling alley where Berry worked before the two left together. Rose returned, alone, around 45 minutes to an hour later. Witnesses recalled seeing a new red stain on his pants, though he attempted to cover it with white paint and, later, a black substance thought to be grease. Testing later confirmed the stain was blood and the type matched Lisa’s.
Following an extensive search, Lisa’s nude body was recovered in a canal approximately 12 miles (19km) four days after her disappearance. Lisa could not immediately be identified due to decomposition and severe head trauma, but dental records and fingerprints verified what police suspected. Near her body was a blood-stained, paint-spattered hammer which was considered to be the murder weapon.
Suspicion soon fell on Rose: he was last person seen with Lisa; Lisa’s shirt was found nestled between paint cans in Rose’s van; the murder weapon had been covered in paint, and as Rose was a painter by trade, it seemed plausible the hammer was his; and he could not give a consistent account to his whereabouts at the time of Lisa’s disappearance. After his first trial ended in a mistrial, Rose was convicted of Lisa’s murder in 1977 and sentenced to death. He sought an appeal, twice, and was re-sentenced to death in 1983 and again in 1998.
In 2016, DNA evidence recovered from the scene of the 1975 sexual assault and murder of Jean Savage, was matched with Rose. Savage (37) has been found nude with stab wounds to her abdomen and a cut to her throat. Rose’s lawyers contend the DNA evidence has been corrupted due to improper storage and handling. Between the questionable DNA results and a lack of material witnesses who have died or moved since the murder, Rose — who has suffered a stroke while waiting on death row for over 40 years and is currently blind and bound to a wheelchair — may not be tried for Savage’s murder.
Photo credit: Henry Fichner
Clipping: Fort Lauderdale News. October 27, 1976. Via Newspapers.com
- Musgrave, Jane. “Photo spurs query into handling of DNA evidence.” The Palm Beach Post [West Palm Beach, Florida]. July 14, 2017
- Howard, Samuel and McMahon, Paula. “Convicted killer indicted in Delray Beach woman’s slaying in 1975, authorities say.” Sun Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, Florida]. October 1, 2016
- Rose v. State of Florida. No. SC94317
- McEvoy, George. “Rose: The Empty Eyes Of A Loser.” Sun-Sentinel and Fort Lauderdale News [Fort Lauderdale, Florida]. March 19, 1977
- McEvoy, George. “Jury Selected Quickly For Trial In Kidnap-Murder of Little Girl.” Fort Lauderdale News [Fort Lauderdale, Florida]. March 14, 1977
- Ryan, James W. and McEvoy, George. “Child’s Body Identified As Lisa.” Fort Lauderdale News [Fort Lauderdale, Florida]. October 27, 1976