SPRING HILL – As the second anniversary of 18-year-old Ariana Ptarcinski's murder draws near, the victim's parents Eddie and Judy Ptarcinski are still grieving their beloved daughter's death and are losing hope that Ariana's killer will ever be brought to justice. CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY
Media coverage has been sparse since the 2021 Christmas Eve murder, and the Ptarcinski family is starting to believe that may have been design. At the onset of the investigation, Eddie and Judy were told to remain silent and not draw attention to the case by contacting the media. Now, almost two years later, the case is still "under investigation," despite being told it was closed, leading them to believe that "remaining silent" was to prevent public scrutiny over a botched investigation.
At the onset of our investigation, officials with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said the case was "open" and declined to comment or provide a full report. However, State Attorney Pete Magrino said their investigation was closed and willingly released a 373-page report. Surprisingly, the vast majority of documents in that report were social media comments criticizing Sheriff Al Nienhuis and Detective Chris Kraft for how they treated the Ptarcinski family. Even the State Medical Examiner provided a full report, which clearly stated that Ariana was murdered at the hands of another person. Arian's parents question why HCSO reopened the case when there are no new developments. The only suspect, Ramon Calderon Durst, is not cooperating with investigators and is represented by an attorney.
Since HCSO began its investigation, Eddie and Judy say Sheriff Al Nienhuis has never reached out by phone or in-person to offer his condolences over the loss of their daughter. That's unusual for Sheriff Nienhuis because historically Nienhuis always responds to the scene of a homicide and in most cases, broadcasts live from the agency's Facebook page to provide a brief statement about the incident.
During the investigation, HCSO seized Ariana's cell phone to analyze her conversations and search for any valuable evidence. In recent weeks, Judy reached out to Detective Kraft to request that his daughter's cell phone be returned since it served no further value to the investigation. Judy wrote, "Good afternoon, Detective, I am texting you again to find out about my daughter's property. I would like to be able to come pick it that up please." Judy made several more requests before Detective Kraft finally responded and allowed her to retrieve the phone. Judy says he made it very clear to Detective Kraft that she needed the phone to be unlocked before picking it up because she did not have the access code. Despite her request, Judy says the phone was still locked when she retrieved it.
Out of frustration with Detective Kraft's lack of consideration, Judy wrote "Good morning, I just picked up Ariana's phone and you promised me you would leave it unlocked for me. And of course, another lie from you and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office." Detective Kraft didn't delay at all in responding to Judy's annoyed text and wrote, "Wow!! You're welcome. I had no idea that is [sic] was locked. But our business is finished."
Shocked by Detective Kraft's off-putting remarks, Judy and Eddie both shared the appalling response on their Facebook pages to show the community how they've been treated by the agency. Judy writes, "I wanted to repost this so everyone can see how we have been treated after the loss of our daughter Ariana, where is the compassion, professionalism, the humanity or the oath police officers take to save lives?"
Furious over Detective Kraft's response, Eddie writes in part, "What a piece of garbage. How do you even call yourself a Detective? She was our world, not some business."
After thinking about Detective Kraft's message, Eddie and Judy became even more perplexed by what may have been an unintentional admission about his "investigation." When Detective Kraft stated, "But our business is finished," did he really mean that the case was closed and that there is no investigation underway?
R News reached out to HCSO and Detective Kraft regarding the case but once again officials stated, "It is still an open investigation."
Eddie, Judy, and those supporting the Ptarcinski family are starting to believe that Sheriff Al Nienhuis is keeping the case "open" to avoid releasing information that would damage his bid for reelection in 2024. Former homicide investigators and attorneys have reviewed the case evidence and found no reasonable explanation as to why Durst was not arrested on the night of the murder. Once the election is over, and if Sheriff Nienhuis is reelected, Eddie and Judy believe the case will be closed and evidence will prove Detective Kraft botched the case, preventing Durst from being held accountable for Ariana's murder.
Eddie and Judy say they will never back down and will do everything they can to prevent Sheriff Nienhuis from being reelected. "No one should have to go through what we've experienced with this agency after the murder of our daughter," says Eddie.