Owner of Jeep in fatal hit-and-run hires attorney, FHP says

Jason Rodeghier struck, killed while jogging


COCOA, Fla. – A hit-and-run investigation in Brevard County took another twist Thursday when the owner of an SUV linked to the death of a jogger hired an attorney, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The owner to the gray Jeep Cherokee is not speaking with authorities, however.

"The owner has retained a lawyer, and that lawyer has made contact with us," said Kim Montes, spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Jeep was recovered Wednesday from an undisclosed location. State forensics investigators continue to comb through the vehicle for evidence, including blood, hair and other items.

"We’re basically searching for the owner,” Montes told Florida Today before the attorney contacted authorities.

So far, no charges have been filed in the case.

“The parts at the scene told us what kind of vehicle we were looking for. It’s just a matter of time before we can gather more information. We would love for the owner to contact us,” Montes said without elaborating on who owner might be.

The 1998 gray Jeep Cherokee – with damage to its left-front end – was located after someone called in a tip about its whereabouts. Troopers had issued an alert to surrounding law enforcement agencies after a deadly hit-and-run crash early Monday left a 39-year-old jogger dead on Satellite Boulevard, just north of State Road 520 and west of the Cocoa city limits.

Investigators, who worked a 16-hour day on the case Wednesday, said 39-year-old Jason Rodeghier left home to go jogging around 4:30 a.m. Monday when he was struck. His body was found in a nearby ditch along Satellite Boulevard -- a dirt road that intersects with State Road 520.

There were no witnesses.

The next step for investigators will be to determine if the owner of the vehicle was driving at the time of the incident. That means looking at circumstantial evidence for now, including the owner’s schedule, his or her routine and even surveillance videos along other routes the Jeep may have been traveling that morning as a result.

“When we don’t have a witness to the crime, and that’s what we’re calling this, then the burden’s on us to gather as much evidence as possible and build a case,” Montes said.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call 800-423-TIPS.