AVON PARK - More than four months after a popular high school football player was killed on a dark street southeast of downtown, deputies still have not arrested the killer.
Chief Deputy Mark Schrader said Friday the investigation is not stalled. "Our detectives are actively investigating the case. We've sent evidence to the lab, and they feel confident they will make an arrest."
Although an Internet rumor said the principal suspect has left town and could not be located, Schrader said, "I can tell you this. That information did not come from Highlands County Sheriff's Office."
The body of Dwayne Terrance Council Jr., 21, was found Nov. 23.
"At approximately 4:30 a.m.," Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Nell Hays said at the time, "a passerby found a black male lying injured in the street."
Highlands County deputies and EMS responded to the 200 block of State Street, just east of Delaney Avenue. They found the victim, who was the son of a popular football and track coach, suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken to Florida Hospital Heartland, where he was pronounced dead.
Deputies found and marked evidence in the street, and evidence technicians also photographed portions of a dirt field south of the road.
The only arrest so far has been Javon Moses, 19, of Avon Park.
A Dec. 10 arrest warrant by Det. Hank Smith said that Witness #1 said "the victim was with Javon Moses minutes before the gunshots were heard. Witness #1 further indicated that Moses and the victim were walking together towards the area where the victim was discovered.
"Witness #1 heard numerous gunshots coming from the area where the victim was discovered. Witness #1 corroborates the time frame the gunshots were heard by the 911 caller."
Most importantly, Smith wrote in the arrest warrant, "Witness #1 saw the victim had a pistol ... only minutes before hearing the gunshots."
Two more witnesses, identified only as #2 and #3, "watched Moses burn clothes he had taken off his body. The clothes Moses burned were recovered by law enforcement and match the clothes worn by Moses minutes before the shots were heard."
Moses was booked in Highlands County Jail on Dec. 13, initially on a charge of destroying physical evidence. On Dec. 30, he was booked again on a probation violation.
Council was a linebacker and a popular student at Avon Park High School. He and Johnequa Perry were selected as homecoming king and queen for 2009. In 2010, he signed a scholarship to play football at Evangel University, a private, liberal arts, Assemblies of God college in Springfield, Mo, where he was rostered as a defensive back.
Andy Bonjokian, Council's coach for four years at Avon Park High School, said, "This guy just had a million-dollar smile. He was the kind of person everyone would want to be around. He was a great leader on the field, but he was an even greater teammate."
"He was the class clown," said Jelisa Matthews, who pinned a red paper "10" on her classmates at Council's funeral, representing their Class of 2010, which voted Council "Most Athletic."
Anyone with information has been asked to contact Det. Smith at 381-2814 or 402-7250.
Informants can remain anonymous. A cash reward may be offered by Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-8477 or at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.