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The Murderer and Us PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nancy Lee, BT Contributor   
April 2020

A family’s ties to the FBI’s biggest shootout

HPix_EyeOnMiami_4-20ow many people have a mass murderer come into their life, and stay at their house yet? Well, it happened to me, and I want to tell you the story because it is horrific, and not just for me, but for enough people that it needs to be told. If ever there was an argument for banning automatic weapons, this is it.

My sister’s boyfriend was shot dead. He was left bleeding on a Suniland street, in what is now Pinecrest. He’d been shot multiple times, but the fatal bullet, from a .357 Magnum revolver, severed his spinal cord. His accomplice was also dead. It remains the bloodiest shootout in FBI history, one that came at great cost to its ranks and changed agency policy forever.

Jacqueline first met Bill Matix through a girlfriend, Terry, she’d known 25 years. Terry’s husband did some plumbing at Bill’s house, and Terry fixed them up. Jacqueline was living in Key Biscayne, and she and Bill hit it off right away.

Born in 1951, he was an Ohio transplant and ex-Marine. He’d also served in the Army in the military police. He had a three-year-old daughter, who was born not long before his wife Patty was murdered in Ohio during a robbery in 1983. Bill told Jacqueline that the murder of his wife was the reason for his move to Florida -- a fresh start, with the payout from a $350,000 insurance policy he is said to have collected.

He knew how to pull on my sister’s heartstrings. She’s a nurse, a sweet, unassuming woman.

Once in South Florida, he attended a church regularly with his daughter and had a tree- trimming business with Michael Platt, a buddy he knew from his Army days. Platt in fact had persuaded him to move to Florida. Coincidentally, Platt’s second wife had died by gunfire under mysterious circumstances. Jacqueline now says she suspects they killed each other’s wives. Both were suspects in the murders, but neither was charged because of insufficient evidence.

Jacqueline didn’t have much contact with Platt. She didn’t like him, though she did like his girlfriend. She and Bill went out on his boat once. She told me he gave her a look that sent shivers up her spine. Something appeared very wrong with him.

Despite those few reservations, the relationship between Jacqueline and Bill continued to blossom. He was a model father to his delightful toddler and treated Jacqueline’s 12-year-old son with respect, and they became quick friends. My mother and aunt went away with the couple to my lakefront house in Ocala, where the accompanying photo was taken, and everyone had a good time. Bill was kind to everyone, especially Jacqueline.

My husband and I, who were living in New York at the time, met Bill for coffee on Key Biscayne. He seemed nice enough. Not great, just nice enough. No bad vibes.

After about four months of dating and a month before the shootout, Jacqueline moved from Key Biscayne to Bill’s house. My sister soon learned she was pregnant. Bill wasn’t happy, probably because he had a six-month-old and a second wife Jacqueline didn’t know about yet.

Not long afterward, Bill became increasingly erratic and my sister began trying to figure out how to leave him. He scared her. She’d heard him joking with Platt about how they used to beat up gays when they were back in the service, and this sickened her. The death of his first wife was feeling sinister now. She’d also just found out about his six-month-old child. She was faced with a clusterf--k of bad omens all at once and was trying to process them.

There was more to come.

Bill had a long line of “new” used cars. He and Platt had been murdering the owners of the cars and using the vehicles in bank robberies up and down U.S 1. His latest “acquisition,” in March 1986, was a Monte Carlo. They’d shot its owner and left him for dead, but the man survived and provided a police sketch. Thinking back to when the sketch was airing on TV, Jacqueline recalls that Bill always found a way to distract her.

Jacqueline drove that Monte Carlo for errands. Only a few days before the shootout, she went to Publix, opened the trunk to put in the groceries, and saw that it was filled with guns and ammunition. She’d never been around weapons, didn’t know what to think. Was Bill a collector? Did people keep this many guns in a collection? We come from a family of secrets, and she did what she always did -- she stayed silent because she was afraid.

Bill kept a shoebox full of cash in his closet, and it was running low. My sister thinks this explains why the final fateful day unfolded.

April 11, 1986: In broad daylight, the FBI spotted the stolen Monte Carlo. When they tried to stop it, the ensuing collision ended in a shootout involving ten people: the two suspects armed with semi-automatic rifles (Platt fired 42 rounds) and eight FBI agents armed with pistols. In just under five minutes, 145 shots were exchanged. Two agents were killed, five were wounded; just one escaped injury.

Matix and Platt had the latest assault-style rifles at the time. The FBI had only handguns. The agents were outgunned, but not outsmarted, by two evil men.

The first Jacqueline heard of the shootout was when the FBI showed up at her door.

The 1988 docudrama In the Line of Duty, starring Teri Copley as my sister and Michael Gross as Bill Matix, is not on my watch list. This is a story I put in front of you so I can put it behind me.

 

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