Clifford Friend

On August 28, 1994 Miami resident, Lynne Friend was ready to start her new life in Tennessee.  She had just recently been given the right to move there with her five year old son, Christian and even her home was packed and ready.  She was planning to marry her finance' Ed O'Dell.  On that evening Lynne told Ed that her ex husband, Clifford, had asked her to come to his house to pick up her child support check.  As a mother who had to fight for her child support I know you do not turn down the opportunity when the ex is ready to give you money, especially when you have had a bitter custody battle.  Lynne presumably went to Clifford's house and was never seen again.

Late that night custom agents on the ocean saw a boat speed out into the middle of the ocean.  As they were approaching the vessel they noticed to men on board throw something over the side of the boat and race off.  Customs took chase and stopped the men.  They were used to stopping people like this because it was common for drug deals to take place in this area, at this hour. The two men, Clifford Friend and his friend Alan Gold claimed to the agents that they had simply thrown towels over the side of the boat.  Agents were suspicious but they had nothing to hold the two men and released them.  

Ed O'Dell was becoming worried in Tennessee when Lynne was not answering her phone.  A few days later her abandoned car would be found in a field with a punctured tire.  Investigators quickly learned of the stop that customs had made and conducted a search in the area in which something had been dumped.  They found nothing.  Ed O'Dell would pay for a few days more in searching, but again, nothing was ever found.

Investigators felt that Clifford Friend had murdered his ex-wife and dumped her body into the ocean but without a body it would be difficult to prove.  They would not stop looking for the evidence however.  They finally got Alan Gold to talk.  

Alan Gold had always been a good friend of Clifford's.  In fact he had testified as a character witness for him in his custody battle for his son.  But Alan would eventually confess what he knew.  However, he did not do so without something in return.  For his story, and testimony Alan Gold was granted immunity.

Alan Gold would tell investigators that on the night of August 28, 1994 Clifford had called him and asked him to come to his house. He stated when he got there a duffel bag sat in the room.  He claims that Clifford stated to him that Lynne had come to the home and that they had argued.  He stated Clifford said he had choked Lynne, placed chains around her body and placed her in the duffel bag.  The two men would go and place Lynne's car in a field, went back to Clifford's to retrieve the bag and then went to his place to get on his boat and head out to the ocean.  Gold would claim that they threw an anchor into the bag before quickly throwing it overboard because they noticed the custom agents coming their way.  

Clifford would be indicted in March of 2012 and taken to trial in July of 2014. Gold would repeat his story in court but of course the defense attempted to discredit him.  They would claim that Gold was a drug criminal and had only testified to give the investigators what they wanted to hear to get out of being accused of doing a drug deal on the ocean that night.  That did not make sense even on the surface.  The Customs agents never reported seeing another boat out with the two or even anywhere near them.  As far as I could tell there was no specifics given on the drug deal that was supposed to take place on the ocean that night.

There was one part of the trial that I was never able to clarify.  Apparently a man by the name of Andres Garcia had been serving a sentence for drug trafficking while Friend was in jail.  He would testify that while they were inmates the two had watched a documentary about a "drug kingpin" who had killed his girlfriend when he found out she was a spy.  The man had tied the woman's body to an anchor and dumped her into the ocean.  Garcia would claim that while watching this Clifford Friend commented that was how he had done it and how ironic that this show had aired.  Garcia would admit that he had come forward to help authorities on the promise that some time would be shaved off his thirty year sentence.  Defense attorney's apparently presented evidence relating to jail house telephone calls and stated that during the time that the show aired it showed that Clifford had been on the phone so he could not have watched the show.  Prosecutors seemed to be taken aback and accused the defense of holding evidence.  Rightfully so the defense argued that the jailhouse phone log was readily available to the prosecution and it was not their duty to do their job for them.  Information I found stated that the judge offered a twenty-four recess for the prosecution to look over the evidence and then it would decide on what to do and how to handle Garcia's testimony.  I was unable to determine just what results came of this.  However, I have to state that I would find it odd that Clifford would have been on the phone the entire time the show aired.  The show would have at least been a half hour program, if not a full hour and in most jails phone calls are timed and limited and rarely does it seem that long would have been available.

There was no indication made exactly where the couple's son, Christian was at the time his mother disappeared but for his part Christian stood by his father. In 1995 Clifford had remarried and he and his new wife had raised the boy. Christian would be quoted as saying while he believed his father going into trial that the trial itself had solidified that belief.

Clifford Friend was ultimately found guilty of murdering his ex wife.  However, while the prosecution had asked for a 1st degree conviction, believing that the murder was premeditated the jury apparently disagreed as they convicted him of 2nd degree murder.  When Friend was sentenced in September of 2014 he walked in the courtroom expecting to be sentenced to about twenty-two years but the judge decided to give him a life sentence.  The judge noted that there was ample evidence, regardless of the fact there had been no body, that Clifford Friend had killed his ex-wife Lynne and he hoped that one day their son would see that too.

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