Left: Keith circa 1977 Right: Age Progressed to age 49
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: April 28, 1977 from Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, Florida
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: September 18, 1963
Age: 13 years old
Height and Weight: 5’0″; 110 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Male, Blonde hair, Brown eyes, Keith Lost both of his teeth in an unspecified accident prior to his disappearance and was wearing a frontal plate at the time, Keith has previously fractured his left leg and his hair was trimmed prior to his disappearance
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A t-shirt, a pair of jeans, thong sandals, a necklace that consisted of a gold chain with an Italian horn
Circumstances of Disappearance
Keith Fleming was last seen in Cocoa Beach, Florida. He was dropped off at his girlfriends residence by his parents earlier in the afternoon after school concluded. She lived north of Keith. It was established that Keith had to be back home for dinner.
Keith and his girlfriend rode on her bike to the end of Osceola Street at State Road A1A. Keith got off of his girlfriends bike and said he was going to hitchhike the rest of the way home. When the girlfriends mother found out about this, she got in her car and went to pick him up and drive him home.
She arrived at the spot he was last seen in by his girlfriend but he was already gone. He never arrived home and was never seen or heard from again. Authorities believe that Keith was the victim of a non family abduction.
John McRae is the prime suspect in his presumed abduction. He has a record for crimes against children. In 1950, John murdered and dismembered his 8 year old neighbor, Joseph “Joey” Housey when he was 15 and dumped his remains in a muddied field. McRae served 21 years in prison for the crime and was released from prison in 1971.
John worked as a guard at the Brevard Correctional Institution from the year 1976 to the year 1980. While McRae worked there, three local boys vanished. The first was Keith in 1977, then in March of 1979, Kipling Hess vanished while waking to school. Kipling had met McRae at the carnival after he saved him from bullies. The last boy to disappear was 20 year old, Charles Edward Collingwood, who was an inmate at the Institution where McRae worked.
It’s possible that McRae was having an inappropriate relationship with Collingwood. McRae denied this and stated that Collingwood was his snitch and spy for other inmates. Authorities believe McRae killed all three boys and dumped them somewhere in Brevard County.
Authorities believe that McRae was involved in Keith’s disappearance because Keith vanished within the timeframe that he was in the area of Brevard County. McRae also once stated that he had a habit of watching boys surf at the Cocoa Beach Pier. This was something that Keith frequently did.
In 1987, a Michigan boy named, Randy Ray Laufer, vanished while walking to a friends house after school. He was initially believed to be a runaway until his remains were found in 1997. His remains were found buried on McRaes property. He was convicted of killing Laufer in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison. He eventually died in prison.
Authorities believe that McRae committed more murders then he said he did. Authorities at one point offered McRae immunity if he revealed the locations of Fleming’s, Hess’s, and Collingwood’s remains but he refused. He maintained his innocence in all cases until his death. His wife stated that McRae had admitted to killing Hess and Collingwood at one point.
At the time of his disappearance, Keith enjoyed Rock Music, surfing, and biking. He is the youngest of three sons. He was a student at Roosevelt Middle School in 1977 and also took counseling in Alternatives after he was caught with Marijuana. His mother and siblings still live in the local area and hope to locate him. His father has since died.
In the years since his disappearance, many have criticized the initial investigation into his disappearance because police were allegedly slow in investigating tips and leads that arose in his disappearance. The girl that last saw Keith was interviewed 16 years after Keith vanished in 1993.
Keith’s disappearance remains unsolved. Authorities suspect that he was abducted by a non family member and may have been murdered. He has never been located.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Cocoa Beach Police Department 305-783-4911
NCMEC Number: 601296