Police identify jumper from Skyway Bridge

October 14th, 2009 by

LAKELAND – It appears a rocky relationship came to a tragic end at the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Monday, 38-year-old Robert Laird jumped to his death, leaving a nearby car on fire, with a body burning in the trunk.

Lakeland Police are investigating whether the body was that of Laird’s ex-wife, Sheryl Laird.

The medical examiner hasn’t identified the remains discovered the trunk, but police confirm they’re investigating a murder at Sheryl Laird’s home Monday.

Sheryl’s friends are already grieving.

“Anytime something like this escalates to the nature it has, it’s always a shock,” Doug Streeter told FOX 13. “She was afraid of him. She was scared of him.”

Robert Laird was arrested for domestic violence and Sheryl Laird at one time had a restraining order against him.

Word quickly spread on Sheryl’s Facebook page. One friend wrote “The world is better off without her ex, but lost a great soul at his hands.”

About a week and a half ago, Sheryl wrote on her page that she wasn’t sleeping and kept waking up at four in the morning. She wrote “I am going to blame it on the ex. It’s his fault.”

Sheryl’s co-workers at the Flyer.com in Brandon are devastated. She worked as a graphic artist there for 17 years.

“Very somber, a lot of heavy hearts, very difficult to understand how tragic circumstances could be that lead to something like this,” Carlos Guzman, president, said.

He says Sheryl was the best of the best, who cared deeply for her daughter.

“Her little girl was her life,” Guzman said.

The staff at Flyer.com is considering starting an education fund for Sheryl’s 8-year-old daughter.

The drama that unfolded on the Skyway is upsetting for Dan Aberg, a passerby crossing the bridge. He snapped a photograph with his cell phone, not realizing the moment he’d captured.

“I really didn’t see the guy at first. I just saw the flames and I just kind of clicked the picture,” Aberg told FOX 13.

The picture shows flames billowing from the car’s trunk and Robert Laird standing near the edge of the bridge.

“I hadn’t really looked at it to be honest with you until it came out what the story was and I started really looking at it and I’m like ‘God, that’s pretty awful… Knowing the back story…. it’s a little strange.”

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