Longform

Marissa Karp Murder: A Decade of Investigation Pays Off

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The public eye hasn't drifted far from Marissa's case thanks to Gary's persistence over the years. Since 2005, the family has put a yearly billboard on Hallandale Beach Boulevard asking for information. A $12,800 reward awaits anyone with vital information, and the story was featured on a 2012 episode of America's Most Wanted.

Time has vindicated Gary's lone-wolf, long-shot hunches about the killings related to Marissa's end. In August 2011, prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Coakley and another Bahamian for first-degree murder in the 2002 triple shooting.

"My father is not a detective. My father didn't know what end was up before this, but he managed to put together these things before anyone else," says Josh, admiration caking his voice. "If we had waited for them to do their job, there is a very big possibility we wouldn't be where we are today."

In the years since Gary's trip to the Bahamas, investigators have been able to hammer together further connections between the killings and other members of the drug crew — specifically, after the Sunrise shooting, Coakley handed over the guns to Ingraham for disposal.

If Coakley, who is likely hiding out in the Bahamas, can be forced to describe the night of Marissa's murder in Hallandale Beach, detectives believe the mystery will finally be solved.

But Gary isn't doing any victory laps. "The way I see it, truth, justice, and the American way — it's a crock. It's overrated," he says one afternoon while sitting in a BSO conference room discussing the case. Not long after, he adds, "I never really believed in the death penalty. Now, you know the saying, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?' No, two eyes."

Gary serves on the board of Crime Stoppers, the department's in-house victims' advocacy group. In that role, he coaches others through grief. He brings a revival-tent intensity to the work as someone who's personally been inside the agony. The pain following a crime, he says, isn't something you can eventually wrestle to a standstill. It's an ever-evolving piece of your makeup.

"There's no closure," he says. "There's learning to live with it."

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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson