Mother Leads Pursuit Of Justice For Murdered Son

By  //  September 2, 2012

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BREVARD COUNTY • ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA – For five long years, Cathy Clifton has sought justice for the heinous execution–like murder of her son, who was shot to death before her very eyes.

John L. Clifton Jr. was shot to death in front of his mother at her home in Rockledge by a group of four men. The case remains unsolved. (Image courtesy Rockledge Police Department)

On Sept. 1, 2007 at about 5:45 p.m., John L. Clifton Jr., 36, was in the front yard of his family’s home in Rockledge when four men approached him.

A scuffled ensued and his mother, Cathy Clifton, who was inside her home, looked out to see what was going on.

It was at that point she saw something that has been etched in her memory forever.

“I saw it when I opened the door,” she said. “He was looking right at me and they were holding his arms and legs down. One of the group put a gun to my son’s chest and pulled the trigger. He didn’t have a chance.”

Cathy Clifton said she picked up her son and then turned and took off chasing the fleeing suspects with her cell phone in her hand.

She caught up to the four men as they jumped into a white Impala and she had her hand on the car door while she banged on the car’s back window with her cell phone. The suspect with the gun tried to shoot her before the car quickly sped away.

Cathy Clifton ran back to her son, cradled him and implored him not to die while he lay bleeding to death, soon passing from the gunshot wound.

“I don’t know how to describe the feeling of watching your child dying right in front of you,” she said.

After five years, the Rockledge Police remain committed to solving the crime and bringing Clifton’s killer to justice. They have never revealed the motive for the crime.

Rockledge resident John L. Clifton Jr. was shot to death in his mother’s front yard in 2007 by four assailants. (Image courtesy Rockledge Police Department)

John Clifton was a lifelong resident of Rockledge, born at Wuesthoff Hospital.

He was a 1989 graduate of Rockledge High School and played Little League baseball, Pop Warner football and was a member of ROTC in high school.

“John loved putting his creativity to use as the proud owner of John Clifton Landscaping,” Cathy Clifton said.

His mother said his greatest joy was spending time with his then 4-year-old son and his hobbies were playing and coaching baseball, football, boxing and fishing.

Since his murder, leads in the case have been scarce.

Witnesses told police at the time they saw two cars, a white sedan and a green sedan by Cathy Clifton’s home at the time that John L. Clifton Jr., who was the father of two sons, was shot.

It’s believed that some of the possible suspects were subsequently convicted of other crimes and sent to jail, but may eventually be released if further evidence in the Clifton murder is not found.

Police detectives think that some witnesses who know, saw or heard something following the shooting have not come forward for fear of retaliation.

To that end, investigators suggest reluctant witnesses could call CRIMELINE and remain totally anonymous.

Cathy Clifton said she wears a T-shirt with her son’s photo on it every single day and will not rest until she knows the truth about her son’s murder.

She’s had flyers made up, told her story on the “America’s Most Wanted” website, paid to put a description of the crime and her son’s photograph on billboards on the highway and has bumper stickers on her car asking for help in solving the case.

Her quest won’t end until someone is held responsible for her son’s death, Cathy Clifton said. She prays every day for closure and has even made a video posted on You Tube seeking justice for her son.

In the years since John’s murder, times have been hard for Cathy Clifton and her family.

She’s been out of work for some time after having run her own child care business successfully from her home for years.

“I’m having a really rough time right now making ends meet,” she said. “It’s been five long years, but I’m not going to give up. A lot of people have helped me over that time, but now I may lose my home. I might lose everything, but I won’t stop trying to bring those who killed my son to justice. It’s on my mind every day, every minute of the day. I want every one of them that is involved to pay for this.”

Anyone with information is asked to call CRIMELINE at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477). A $10,000 reward has been offered for anyone who can help convict the murderers. 


  1. This is a powerful video, I am truely grateful to the people that helped Cathy get her story told John was a wonderful son who loved his family. He had a son just think how you would feel if you lost a loved one in the manner that Cathy lost John.I have been a friend of Cathy’s since 1977 so I knew all her kids and saw them grow up. Cathy’s life has been forever changed and she needs help in every way.Please reach out to her if there is anything you can do. Let the people that are responsible for the murder of John Clifton know that we are standing together. My prayer is for justice. I love you Cathy you are a wonderful lady. Stay strong and believe that God is always there for you. God Bless

  2. Cathy, my heart goes out to you in so many ways. I pray this video, as well as all the information out there will touch the heart of someone who knows the truth. Jesus tells us that the Truth will set us free. So, I pray they will come forth with courage and strength to tell what they know. I love you girl, hang in there…Justice will come, Keep the Faith!

    Now, I would like to speak to those who murdered your son. You, who had to hold an innocent man down and murder him in such a savage way….YOU must live each and every day with what you did, not only to John, but to his mother, Cathy, whose heart you ripped from her the day you took her son in such a cowardly and horrific way. Shame on you! May God never give you a moments peace in anything you do or in anything you feel until you repent and tell the truth. May HE convict your heart every waking moment of the instant you took an innocent life. May you find what you are truly missing in your life….The Lord Jesus Christ. HE is the only way to the True Eternal Life beyond this one on earth. HE is the only one that can keep you from burning in Hell. HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through HIM. You have a choice, because YOU WILL pay for your crime. You can either come to Jesus, repent, turn yourself in and live, or die and burn in hell. Make no mistake, YOU WILL come before the Father upon your death and face the judgement seat. It depends on you, which direction will you go, UP or DOWN? I will pray for Justice for Cathy and all the mothers out there that had to face their loved ones being murdered that one day their hearts will be mended and given the peace they so deserve because of what other’s, who have no value of life, have taken from them. I will also pray for YOU, who have done these deeds, that you will see the “light,” before the dark overtakes you.

  3. I know your pain. My son’s life was abruptly taken, January 2013 it’s will be four years. I haven’t given up hope. We are almost where we need to be. I made a vow to my son on his death bed that I would not stop until.the cowards that killed him are done. That vow still lives on in me. I’m not giving up!!! Today, I want to encourage you to keep holding on and don’t give up. I’m truly admire your strength to fight for justice for your son just as well as I am. Don’t give up on God cause HE won’t give up on you.

  4. God bless you John. And God bless you Cathy. You are a strong woman and you are now winning. PLEASE BE AT EASE NOW. You have done all that you (anyone) could do. The law will deal with this waste of humanity. You be well and smile. YOU have won.

    Peter McKenzie

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