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Port St. Lucie police ask anonymous tipster to come forward after 18-year-old killed in 2020

Charles Highlands found dead inside car at gas station
wptv charles Highlands.jpg
Posted at 9:00 PM, May 03, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Police in Port St. Lucie are asking for an anonymous tipster to come forward nearly four years after an 18-year-old was found dead inside his car.

Charles Highlands was found killed inside a vehicle in the parking lot of a BP gas station along Southwest Del Rio Boulevard on Aug. 26, 2020.

The victim would have been 22 years old on Saturday, so police said they are again asking for the public's help with the investigation.

Detectives investigating the case said they are pleading for the anonymous tipster, who has left several tips with Treasure Coast Crimestoppers over the past years, to come forward.

"While we recognize that Treasure Coast Crimestoppers provides an invaluable investigative resource to all law enforcement agencies on the Treasure Coast, and we understand anonymity is important for the tipsters, our detectives believe that there is a specific tipster that may have more information regarding the homicide of Charles Highlands," police said in Friday statement.

Port St. Lucie Assistant Police Chief Leo Niemczyk discusses the case involving the death of Charles Highlands.
Port St. Lucie Assistant Police Chief Leo Niemczyk discusses the case involving the death of Charles Highlands.

Detectives said they believe that it is imperative they speak directly with that tipster.

Victim's Mother Makes Plea For Help

The victim's mother, Pamela Highlands, spoke Friday with WPTV.

"He was a tall goofy kid, but he had a heart of gold. He was incredibly funny. He was very focused," she said.

She said the hardest part is that her son's killer is still out there.

"I just want whoever knows what happened to please just tell us, tell the police," she said. "Police have done as many things I feel as they could."

Pamela Highlands made a plea for the tipster to come forward to hopefully lead to an arrest in her son's killing.
Pamela Highlands made a plea for the tipster to come forward to hopefully lead to an arrest in her son's killing.

Port St. Lucie assistant police chief Leo Niemczyk said the teen's body was probably inside the car a day or two before it was found, hindering the investigation.

"There wasn't a lot of evidence for us to go on," Niemczyk said.

Police said they have a person of interest, but they don't have enough proof to move forward to name him a suspect.

Niemczyk said if police can talk to the anonymous tipster, they might be able to get what's needed for an arrest.

"We're really concerned that this person who keeps giving us a name to look at knows more about the investigation than we do," Niemczyk said. "We really need the information that that person has."

Pamela Highlands hopes bringing the killer to justice will finally give her family the closure they need to heal. She has the following message to the tipster:

"If they can just take that last step and just talk to the police and actually help us that would be amazing because then we'd just be able to end this," she said.

The tipster can contact Detective Richard Giaccone at (772) 807-4401 to help in the case.