1986 murder of newlywed at Port Richey store still unsolved

8 On Your Side
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Helen “Wendy” Laroche was just 21, recently married and starting to take college classes when she was murdered while working at a convenience store in Port Richey.

It was June 29, 1986, and Wendy was working the night shift at the Gas ‘N’ Save located at 10019 US Highway 19. The convenience store has since been torn down. A Home Depot and 7-Eleven are now in its place.

Dave Laroche first met Wendy when they were students at Hudson High School. They worked at a K-Mart together, shared many of the same friends and married after they graduated high school.

“She liked to have fun. She had a great sense of humor,” Dave Laroche said.

Laroche is now the principal of Hudson High School. He says Wendy had a lifetime in front of her.

“Sadly, she had just started classes – I believe that summer or that spring before that summer – before this happened,” he said. 

The night of the murder, he visited his wife at the store to trade out cars.

“I stayed with her for a few minutes, – 10, 15 minutes I recall – and everything seemed normal to me,” said Laroche.

But it wasn’t a normal night. Sometime later, Wendy was shot several times and later found in a back room at the store by a customer.

“The Pasco Sheriff’s Office doesn’t just quit working these cases. We want the family to know that,” Pasco County Sheriff’s Detective Todd Koenig said.

Detective Koenig is now assigned to take a fresh look at unsolved murders.

“Guys did a pretty good job back then but there is always something they may have missed. That’s where I come in,” he said. “I try to look at it again, a fresh set of eyes.”

He’s also re-submitting evidence, using new methods and new technology to look for new clues.

“That’s why we still do this as cold cases because there is a still a chance that we can solve these,” said Koenig.

Dave Laroche just wants closure and wants to know who killed his young wife.

“I believe somebody knows something and I just wish they would have a conscience to tell somebody,” said Laroche.

Watch Jeff Patterson’s full Unsolved: Store Clerk Murder report Friday at 6 p.m. on News Channel 8 to hear from a Pasco deputy who may have been the last person to see Wendy alive.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 24 2021 08:00 am

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