Spencer Mann, chief investigator for the State Attorney’s office 8th Judicial Circuit, is retiring after many years of law enforcement service.
His job included investigating a variety of subjects, Mann said, including everything from “a college football player to murder and everything in between.”
Perhaps the most notorious case Mann ever covered was the Danny Rolling murders.
Before the case files and the tragedy, Mann recalled that it was an exciting time in Gainesville. The University of Florida had a brand new university president, John Lombardi, and Steve Spurrier was heading the Florida Gators football team.
“Things were kind of on a high, and then all of a sudden the first discovery of the murders occurred,” Mann said. “Over a three-day period, a total of five kids were found murdered in their apartments.”
Mann said within days, the city was “gripped in fear.”
Residents and students were scared. Thousands of parents were worried.
“People were pretty glued to the situation at the time,” Mann said.
Mann reflected on better memories, including finding Alzheimer’s patients and missing children.
He said he still remembers one incident from about 20 years ago.
It was a cold, dark night and a young boy wandered off, following the family dog out into the woods. His parents lost sight of him. He wasn’t wearing a jacket.
Mann said he mobilized about 300 people for around two hours, scouring the forest for the child, and soon found him.
Recently, at a local bank, Mann said a man recognized him from that night and asked him if he remembered the incident.
“I said, ‘Yeah sure I do, were you one of the volunteers?’” Mann said. “He says, ‘No, that was my son. . . You helped me that night. . . I just want to thank you again for all that you did.’”
Mann said helping people feels good, even 20 years later. He said people sometimes stop him at grocery stores and around town, thanking him for his service.
“I’m very appreciative of all the comments that people have said over the years,” Mann said. “To me it’s been a great ride. I’ve enjoyed it fully.”
Mann will be leaving the State Attorney’s office within the next week. His position will be taken over by investigator Darry Lloyd.