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Father pushes for answers in St. Lucie County cold case murder

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 6:41 PM EST
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For many, the holidays are a time for family, but for some, it’s a difficult time when a loved one is not at the dinner table.

A Treasure Coast father has been suffering through six holiday seasons waiting for an arrest in his son’s murder.

“It gets worse. Anyone who says it will get better, they have no idea.”

That’s James Hiner, who says holidays are a painful reminder that his son is no longer here.

In November of 2015, there was a fire at his son Matthew’s home just north of Port St. Lucie.

Matthew Hiner was incapacitated and couldn’t escape.

His death was ruled a homicide.

James Hiner made the gruesome discovery in the ashes.

“Standing there looking down in the window of the bedroom we had converted into a closet, suddenly saw his burned out skull and realized he was gone,” said the elder Hiner.

His frustration and anger that he, and not first responders, found his son’s body, is never far from the surface.

“Had they found him, that would be better than the image that is forever burned in my brain,” said Hiner.

Matthew Hiner was a jeweler.

There was a safe full of firearms and jewelry in his home.

Investigators say that safe was open, but not forced open, making robbery the likely motive.

James Hiner wonders if his son’s generosity to his friends came back to bite him.

“Lend money to never get it back. Hire people for menial jobs just to give them something to do,” said Hiner.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office has put a new set of eyes on the case, trying to keep it from turning cold.

Hiner gets some comfort in spending time with his grandson Matthew, who was not even 3 when his father was killed.

“He’s doing as well as can be expected considering he doesn’t have his father. But he has his uncle, so that’s great.”

What will be even better, says James Hiner, is when an arrest is made in his son’s murder.

Scripps Only Content 2021