Murder mystery: Victim remains unidentified since 1988

The victim of a brutal murder at a beachside hotel on Collins Avenue remains unidentified since 1988.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – For decades South Florida beaches served as an escape for tourists. Beachside hotels and resorts like the Marco Polo hotel. a staple along Collins Avenue.

In 1988, tragedy struck at the hotel. A young man was found by a maid murdered. He was in a bathtub inside room 227. The police report says he was stabbed as many as 10 times.

To this day, the victim’s identity remains a mystery. Initially, he was identified as a Bobby Copeland who possibly ran away. Witnesses say he claimed he was from New York and sold magazines in the area.

Police learned he was using someone else’s name and social security number. Bobby Copeland became John Doe, case number 88-49.

“This is a closed homicide case, the offender has been arrested but we don’t know the identity of the victim in this case,” said Detective Johnathan Grossman, of the Miami-Dade Police Departments’ cold case unit.

Police did make a swift arrest: A teen named Mark Robinson from Georgia who was also staying at the hotel. Robinson had run away from home, stealing his father’s car and knife collection. He was arrested in Vegas.

Despite a closed case, police could never identify their victim. John Doe is part of the National Missing and Unidentified persons system. The NAMUS Database uses DNA and other technologies to help solve missing person cases across the country. Police hope they will get a hit.

“We do believe the family members are alive related to our victim. We hope one day DNA gets submitted to NAMS and there is a link we can make to ID our victim.” Grossman said.


About the Author:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.