Skeletal remains case sparks change for Lakeland PD - WFLA News Channel 8

Skeletal remains case sparks change for Lakeland PD

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Mary Rhodes Mary Rhodes

The case of Mary Rhodes, whose skeletal remains were discovered in September, could be a game-changer for the way the Lakeland Police Department does business.

"That report, in a nutshell, got lost in the system,” Sgt. Gary Gross said. "It never got looked at because it was an information report. It should have been titled as a missing persons report."

By filing information about Rhodes' disappearance in an "information report" it went to a pile that wasn't reviewed.

"It went unlooked- for a while," Gross said.

Sgt Gross said they'll never know if whether they had worked the case in that time it was ignored would have meant finding Rhodes alive, but her case served as an eye opener to bring changes that may help others who come to them looking for answers.

"A change was made department-wide that we would no longer do any information reports," Gross said. “Everything would have a title.”

The case spurred the department to go to a new reporting style, one where every case gets attention, and is reviewed by a supervisor.

"We have a policy now that this won't happen again," Gross said.

As for Mary Rhodes, the Polk County Sheriff's Office is still looking for leads on how she died.

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