Mother Leads Pursuit Of Justice For Murdered Son
By Space Coast Daily // September 2, 2012
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.
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.
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.