Man Sentenced in 2014 Double Homicide Near St. Marks Trail

By: Andy Alcock; Edan Schultz Email
By: Andy Alcock; Edan Schultz Email
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By: Edan Schultz
March 18, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Tallahassee man is headed to prison for a double murder last May near the St. Marks Trail.

Joseph Oakes appeared before a judge at the Leon County Couthouse Wednesday shortly after 11 a.m. and pleaded no contest to 2 counts of first degree murder.

He's accused of killing 29-year-old Jason Coshatt and 21-year-old Lynette Lee with a hammer at a campsite near the St. Marks trail last May.

The courtroom was full of emotion as relatives of the victims read impact statements.

"A piece of me died with him that day and I will never be the same," said Jason Coshatt's mother, Lori Zahniser.

Zahniser also read a statement from the oldest of Jason's three children: "I love my dad and the love I had with my dad got taken away by them."

Jason's mom says she feels justice was served, but there's no going back- for the families, or for the defendant.

"I do hope that he finds god and forgiveness while he spends the rest of his life in prison," said Zahniser.

Oakes was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Joseph Oakes girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Ellis, is also accused in this case. She's charged with accessory after the fact for helping to clean up the crime scene and hide the bodies. Ellis is due in court next month.


News Release: Tallahassee Police Department
May 14, 2014 - 3pm

The victims from the double homicide have been identified below. The investigation has revealed that they were homeless and had befriended the arrestees. They were living in the wooded area across the street from the St. Marks Trail, with the arrestees.

Jason R. Coshatt W/M 2/17/1985
At large

Lynette L. Lee W/F 8/20/1992
At large


By: Andy Alcock
May 13, 2014 - 7pm

Amanda Cannon loaded her bike into her vehicle Tuesday at a parking lot near Woodville Highway and Capital Circle after a trip along the St. Marks Trail.

Like many people, Amanda rides her bike, jogs and walks along the trail.

On Monday morning, when Amanda, who ironically is the staff director of the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee, arrived at the parking lot, it was blocked off by police.

"And they said it was a crime scene and they told me where I could park, they told me that the trail was open and they had apprehended a suspect," Amanda said.

Right across Woodville Highway from the parking lot, police found the body of a man and a woman in the woods buried in trash next to a tent.

Police say 43 year old Jennifer Ellis and 32 year old Joseph Oakes who are homeless lived in the tent.

Court records show Oakes confessed to beating both the man and woman to death with a hammer and cutting off the man's foot with a machete because of a perceived slight of his ex-wife who is also Ellis' sister.

"It's a little unnerving," said trail user Mark Northcutt. "I hope there's not much intersection between that night time crowd and the day time bike riders," he said.

"I feel relatively safe and I hope people who frequent this lovely place continue to come," Amanda said.

A police spokesman tells us there is no public safety threat because of this double murder case.

However, he also says investigators have not yet identified the bodies of the murder victims.

Anyone with information is asked to call Tallahassee Police.


News Release: TPD
May 12, 2014 - 8:30pm

On 5/12/14 The Tallahassee Police Department with assistance from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the area of the St. Marks Trail head and found two victims deceased from apparent homicide. The following suspects have been arrested in connection with these murders:

Joseph S. Oakes w/m
No local address
See attached Probable Cause

Jennifer R. Ellis w/f
No local address
See attached Probable Cause

If you have any information about this crime, please contact TPD at 606-5800 or Crime Stoppers at 574-TIPS. Crime Stoppers does not want your name, just your information and you could be eligible for a cash reward.


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