Remembering Rachel Hoffman's murder 10 years later

Posted at 10:13 AM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 09:32:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Ten years ago, recent FSU graduate Rachel Hoffman was killed during an undercover drug buy-bust while working as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department.

On May 7, 2008, police gave Rachel $13,000 in department cash to buy drugs and a gun.

They sent her to meet up with Denelio Bradshaw and Andrea Green, two suspected drug dealers.

But police lost communication with her, and later found her silver Volvo in Jefferson County, her body in a creek in Taylor County, and the two men, in Orlando.

Both of the men who prosecutors say killed Rachel, are behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Andrea Green pled guilty to second degree murder and was sented to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Deneilo Bradshaw went to trial in December of 2009, was convicted of 1st Degree Murder and sentenced to life in prison.

WTXL sat down with former State Attorney Willie Meggs to find out how he feels about Rachel's death, now, 10 years later.

"The case against Bradshaw and Green, in my opinion, was an overwhelming case," said Meggs..

It was one of the most high-profile cases in Tallahassee: the death of confidential police informant Rachel Hoffman. But former State Attorney Willie Meggs said they were confident from the beginning, that they'd win the case.

"One of the things that made the case pretty easy to prosecute was the money that Rachel had been given to buy these drugs and the gun with, they had recorded all the serial numbers of those bills, and after the homicide, Bradshaw and Green, they began to freely use the money and we were able to track them," said Meggs.

When the trial began in December 2009, a year and a half after Rachel was killed, prosecutors had several binders of evidence, surveillance videos, and much more.

What they couldn't prove? Who actually of the two men, shot and killed Rachel. An expert testified during the trial that no fingerprints or DNA of value were found on the gun.

"In that case, it really didn't matter. That's one of the things that we would want to know, is who the actual triggerperson was, but in prosecution of this nature, it didn't matter who it was," said Meggs. "They were both equally guilty."

Rachel was shot five times, with the gun police told her to buy from Bradshaw and Green. Meggs believes the police lost her, Rachel told them that she was undercover, and the men thought they'd never get caught.

"I think that they went there intending to rob her. Clearly they didn't think she was working for the police, because theoretically the police should have been there to apprehend them at the scene. But because of a bunch of messups and loosing her in surveillance and wire in her car goes dead, lost communication and they lost sight of her," said Meggs. "The big deal is, Bradshaw and Green didn't think that we knew all of this, and so they were moving along, fat, dumb and happy and not knowing that we knew who they were all along."

During the trial, the state called 25 witnesses, compared to the defense, who called -- two. Both inmates of Andre Green, who testified that Green told them he shot Rachel, and that he pressured Bradshaw not to tell.

"If you or I were going to believe that he was coerced, the first opportunity he got to get away from this mean, vicious, violent killer, that's exactly what he's going to do and call the police," said Meggs. "That's what an innocent person does. So, you know, you just don't buy into that."

Meggs has prosecuted numerous cases in his 50 years in law enforcement. But the death of Rachel, impacted him.

"I guess the thing that bothers me most about this is, it never should have happened," said Meggs. "She never should have been there. Never should have been there, which is the result we have now of Rachel's Law."

Rachel's Law was passed by the Florida legislature nine years ago.

It established uniform, written guidelines for all Florida law enforcement agencies that confidential informants must understand the risks and responsibilities involved in becoming an informant.

But has it made a difference?

WTXL will have that story Wednesday, on the 10 year anniversary of Rachel's body being found.