Arrest Made in Ocala Road Hit-and-Run Fatality Case

By: Garin Flowers; Eyewitness News, Angelica Alvarez Email
By: Garin Flowers; Eyewitness News, Angelica Alvarez Email

[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 18, 2012 11:53pm

"If you hit somebody you could easily kill them, you should man up for your actions," said Walter Test who lives just feet away from Jason Rivers.

Tallahassee police arrested Rivers for the hit and run death of 51-year-old Joe Arnold. Just after one in the morning on April 8th, they say Rivers hit Arnold while he was crossing the 800 block of Ocala near Heritage Road.

Now almost two weeks later, they got an anonymous tip about who was in the passenger seat that night.

"We spoke with that witness who was in the car at the time of the crash and she was able to tell us who the driver was, who happened to be Mr. Rivers," said Officer Dave Northway with the Tallahassee Police Department.

That passenger told police that after they hit Arnold she remembers seeing the body actually come onto the hood.

"Mr. Rivers, once he struck Mr. Arnold he continued to drive, did not stop, did not try to render aid," said Officer Northway.

Then Rivers drove home to 2133 Belle Vue Way. The passenger says he parked the SUV behind the house trying to hide it.

Rivers is now in the Leon County Jail charged with the fatal hit and run.

Tallahassee police later learned that Rivers had rented the SUV from Enterprise. People there confirm that when he returned it, the day after the crash on April 9th, it had extensive damage to the hood.

The SUV is now at a collision center being processed by the forensics unit.


[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 18, 2012

On April 8th, at approximately 1:15AM, Tallahassee Police officers were called to the 800 block of Ocala Road for a hit and run crash that resulted in the death of a pedestrian, later identified as Joe Arnold.

A week later, TPD received an anonymous tip which provided the name of a possible witness to the crash. An interview with the witness revealed the name of the driver and a description
of the vehicle involved in the crash. Further investigation led to location of the vehicle, a 2011 Dodge Durango, and information on the driver, Jason Rivers.

On April 17th, TPD entered a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Rivers. He was taken into custody this morning by members of TPD’s Career Criminal Unit and the United States Marshal’s Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force.

A copy of the warrant is attached to this release.


[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 16, 2012

The family of a hit-and-run victim is calling on the community to help with the investigation.

They say anyone who can give them more information into the death of their family member may receive a reward.

51-year-old Joe Arnold was hit by a car on April 8th. His body was left for dead in the middle of the road.

The accident happened near the FSU campus on Ocala Road and Heritage Grove.

"The only way we can get closure is to know what happened and...there has to have been a witness or someone to just come forward and let us know."

Arnold was buried on Friday in Boston where most of his family resides.

[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 11, 2012

The daughter of a hit-and-run victim is speaking out.

Tamika Arnold's father - Joe Arnold - was killed when he was hit by a car on Ocala Road and Heritage Grove.

It happened early Sunday morning just after one.

Tallahassee Police are investigating, but have not made any arrests.

Arnold says she was close to her father and she spoke to him almost everyday.

He had just moved to Tallahassee a few weeks before being killed.

"When they confirmed it was my father," she says, "you know that's when reality hit and I knew I had to do something about it because everything seems like it's still idle right now and the family can't rest. My father's soul is not at peace until we know what happened."

Arnold also says the family has already forgiven the person who was behind the wheel.

They just want them to come forward so that justice is served.

[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 9, 2012

The search is on tonight for a driver who struck and killed a man and then took off.

It happened in front of Heritage Grove.

We now know the identity of the victim.

Police say the victim was 51-year-old Joe Arnold. People who live around here say they're shocked to hear that someone would leave the man here for dead. But that's exactly what happened.

There's a lot going on on Ocala road between Tennessee and Pensacola streets. Dozens of businesses are bustling and several apartment complex house many college students .
But so far, no one knows who hit and killed Joe Arnold.

About one Sunday morning Arnold was struck by a car on Ocala, at Heritage Grove. The car then left.

Heritage Grove resident Charles Raynes says, "There was a body laying in the street and at the time no one really knew what was going on with it."

Charles Raynes lives in the Heritage Grove community and says this intersection is the only entrance for residents.

He says the incident sent shock throughout the neighborhood.

"Knowing that we all cross that street everyday and there's a bus stop right there it's definitely a thought."

Tallahassee police say Arnold was a transient who had recently been asked to leave the Tallahassee homeless shelter. A passerby found his body after the accident. He laid lifeless in the middle the road.

Tallahassee Police PIO David Northway says, "If you were in the area of the 800 block of Ocala road on Saturday evening and even if you didn't see anything, maybe we can ask some questions that may jog your memory. But, were seeking assistance from the community in this case."

Police also say it's possible for people to hit something or someone and not realize it. If you THINK you may have, still notify police.
Police are asking businesses in the area if they have surveillance cameras. They're hoping they might have caught something that might lead them to the person responsible for Arnold's death.


[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 9, 2012 -- Noon

Police have released the name of a man found dead in the middle of the road early yesterday morning. They are now saying it was a hit and run.

Police are saying 52- year-old Joe Arnold Junior was hit by a car this weekend. A passerby saw him laying in the middle of Ocala Road around 1:17 AM on Sunday morning. That person called Tallahassee Police and TPD has been working to find the driver of the vehicle ever since.

Emergency responders tried to revive Arnold when they arrived, but attempts were unsuccessful. Investigators blocked off Ocala road from Tennessee street to Pensacola. They spent all night gathering evidence and talking to witnesses. The autopsy results released today show he was hit by a car.

TPD is still looking for the car and the person who was behind the wheel and they're calling on assistance from the community. They are asking anyone with information about this case to contact them at (850) 891-4200.

[UPDATE] Tallahassee, FL -- April 9, 2012 -- 9:25am

On Sunday, April 8th at approximately 1:17am, Tallahassee Police officers were called to the 800 block of Ocala Road in reference to a black male lying in the roadway.

All efforts to revive the man, later identified as Joe H. Arnold Jr. DOB: 1/15/61, were unsuccessful by emergency personnel. TPD investigators responded to the scene and began to gather evidence and attempt to locate witnesses. The autopsy results indicate Mr. Arnold was struck by a vehicle which did not remain on scene.

TPD is asking for assistance from the community. If you have any information about this case or if you were in the area of Ocala Road at that time, please call (850) 891-4200.


Tallahassee, FL--April 07, 2012--10a.m.

Tallahassee police say a man's body was found in the middle of the road early Sunday morning.

He was discovered in the intersection of Ocala and Heritage Grove near Tennessee street.

Authorities haven't released how he died or how his body ended up there, but they are ruling it suspicious.

Police say the body was found by a passerby around 2:30 a.m.

Investigators haven't released an identity or any other details of the man. They are waiting to notify relatives of his death. WCTV will bring you updates as soon as more information is released.

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  • by Peaceful Location: USA on May 1, 2012 at 06:50 AM
    Why must everything be about race? It doesn't matter what color the victim was, he's dead. What difference does it make if the victim or the offender was drunk, a life has been accidentally lost. People are individuals. There are Blacks that are hard to deal with and there are Whites that are hard to deal with. There are also beautiful people of all shades. Your negative, racist comments only hurt the survivors & friends of the deceased, and innocent people like me.
  • by Tamika on Apr 27, 2012 at 06:21 PM
    The family appreciates everyone's prayers and condolences. Thank You.
  • by Tamika on Apr 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM
    JD you're tripping. How can you judge? You don't even need to comment. You don't know half the story so stop assuming. This was a stupid reckless accident that would not have happened if the driver wasn't drinking and driving. The knife is cutting deep in my heart. Nothing will bring back my father. Just please respect his name because he was a great man who caused no harm. If you only knew.
  • by JD on Apr 23, 2012 at 08:48 PM
    It was a homeless man that got hit not the president of the US. Get over it. If his family didn't care enough to house him (mind you his family is in Boston) why should I care that he was out in the middle of the street at 1am in a college town full of people who drink and drive and got hit. What did you think was going to happen.
  • by Gone 2 soon on Apr 21, 2012 at 09:21 PM
    May God bless us and keep us safe from harm
  • by Why on Apr 21, 2012 at 07:42 PM
    Im so glad that they found the person(s) responsible for the death of Joe Arnold. Maybe now his soul can rest in peace and the family will have some comfort in knowing that the person responsible is going to pay for the crime they committed.RIP Joe Arnold
  • by Anonymous on Apr 19, 2012 at 06:09 AM
    More charges should be filed. The passenger witnessed the accident and did not report it on her own? Charge her with being an accessory to the crime. Enterprise Rental Car received a badly damaged vehicle and decided not to repair it and sell it at auction because it was too costly (A 2011 Dodge Durango) to repair. On top of that, the employee(s) did not make a report to Law Enforcement? That makes them an accessory to the crime also.
    • reply
      by Lisa on Apr 19, 2012 at 06:45 AM in reply to
      Exactly what I was thinking. First I thought, how could the passenger be such an awful person to actually not tell someone about this. Then I realized, they hung out with this POS Rivers - "birds of a feather flock together". I hope they throw the book at the passenger as well - they could have done something to possibly save the victim's life, and didn't. It's really disturbing to know that such evil people are walking (and driving drunk) among us.
      • reply
        by JD on Apr 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM in reply to Lisa
        The report never said the driver was intoxicated. Get your facts straight before making assumptions. Don't forget Mr. Arnold was a homeless man crossing the street probably intoxciated himself to not see a car coming at him.
  • by Vic on Apr 19, 2012 at 05:30 AM
    Did the tip come from Enterprise or from the passenger. Anyways investigative techiques should have developed the driver by immediatedly checking with body shops and rental companies for vehicles with front end damage. If the passenger is the pigeon then she probably was arrested and gave up the info to save her hide.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM in reply to Vic
      someone led the police to the passenger
  • by LegalWatcher Location: TLH on Apr 19, 2012 at 05:14 AM
    It is a sad story that an anonymous tip had to come in before the passenger would admit what happened. What happened to teaching our children about accountability and taking responsibility for one's actions? They want rewards when doing well, they need to take their lumps when they make mistakes. I feel sorry for ALL the families involved in this tragic accident.
  • by Wow on Apr 19, 2012 at 05:00 AM
    Wow. 179 comments to state the obvious. Some folks truly are kinda . . slow.
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