Valerie Ames: Jacksonville sheriff announces arrest in 1996 murder of young mother

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An arrest has been made in the murder and sexual battery of a Jacksonville mother who was killed nearly three decades ago.

Valerie Ames, 31, was stabbed to death in a vacant home on Aug. 10, 1996, leaving behind two daughters aged 9 and 5.


Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters announced that Jerry Philips, 69, was arrested in North Carolina and is facing charges in Ames’ killing.

Jerry Philips

According to Johnston County Sheriff’s Office online records, Philips was arrested Wednesday.

Waters credited the JSO Cold Case Unit detectives for their investigative efforts, as well as Ryan Backmann, the founder of Project: Cold Case, for his advocacy work with Ames’ family.

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Ames’ daughter Michelle James spoke, noting that it has been “10,098 days” that they had to live without their mother.

“Holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings, the birth of her six grandchildren have all passed without her. The long years have done nothing to numb the pain of her non-existence. Her pain and her torture have now become our pain and our torture daily,” she said.

State Attorney Melissa Nelson said now her office would now be prosecuting the case.

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