Noel Heimburg: 1976-2006

Today a family remembers a son, a father and a friend. A year ago an armed robber shot and killed 29-year-old Noel Heimburg on the stairwell of his Marina Landing apartment in Metro West. He died in his wife’s arms, leaving behind a 9-year-old son and a devastated family. A year later, the crime remains listed as unsolved.

Since then members of Heimburg’s family, especially his mother Patricia Small, have become staunch advocates of improving the safety of our city and combating the increasing crime rate. Small was present recently at the presentation of Gov. Charlie Crist’s “Anti-Murder Act,” part of a $21.8 million proposal designed to jail repeat offenders who violate their probation. Small also joined the Guardian Angels in early January. The family also held a blood drive last year in Noel’s honor and set up a memorial website to remember him. Currently Patricia Small has become involved with the League of Women Voters and they plan to meet with our state senators in Tallahassee on March 18-19 to talk about juvenile justice. It is believed that the man that murdered Small’s son was only 16-years-old. Small and a group of other mothers in similar situations plan on taking advantage of Governor Charlie Crist’s open door policy and meeting with Crist, the head of the Department of Juvenile Justice Walter McNeal and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp to discuss the issue of juvenile justice. These are the efforts of a family that would see Noel remembered for the man and father he was, and to ensure his death not be in vain.

We all remember last year being the ‘Deadliest Year’ for Orlando and Orange County. By December 31st, 2006 there were 49 murders in Orlando, and 64 in unincorporated Orange County. Each one of those murders is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s mother or father; they are not statistics or mere numbers. Many of these cases sit shelved and unsolved. Many families are still without answers. Even the highly publicized case of Jennifer Kesse, the young former UCF student who disappeared last year, still has police left looking for answers.

What else can be done so that another family doesn’t have to go through what the Heimburg’s, the Kesse’s and many other families have had to go through? Floridians by nature want more spending on crime and crime prevention yet aren’t willing to deal with the tax cuts. We as citizens must be willing to accept a slight increase in taxes if we want our police force to be properly funded. Police forces are only as good as the manpower and money that is spent on them. An overworked, underpaid and understaffed police force is an ineffective one.

Just the fact that recent events have brought the attention of the Guardian Angels to our city sends chills up my spine. While I applaud and respect them for their pro-active efforts, I’m willing to bet that they wish their presence wasn’t necessary, and the fact that it is should send a message to the city that it needs to tighten its belt and rein in the crime in Orlando. If that means upsetting a few taxpayers in order to fund the police force, hire more officers and fund enforcement programs, then so be it.

Noel Heimburg should not be forgotten, nor the score of other murders last year. Each one is a tragic and disappointing blight on our city and we can only hope that we don’t have similar tragedies this year.

The Sentinel filed a story today on the further efforts of Patricia Small which includes an audio interview with Small where she talks about her son’s murder and her mission to combat crime in Central Florida.

If you have any information regarding this or other unsolved cases, please call CrimeLine at 407-423-8477.
See the Florida Blood Center for information on how you can donate to those that need it.

7 Comments so far

  1. John Cutter (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 7:46 am

    Just a note: We have an audio interview with Patricia Small linked to the article mentioned at the end of this post. It is powerful to hear her own words about the case. It is the first of a planned weekly podcast on Crime, with a focus on causes and possible solutions. E-mail me (or, I guess, post a comment here) if you have suggestions for people or issues to include. John Cutter, Senior Editor/Online News,

  2. Rachel (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 10:13 am

    As someone who is just about to bring a child into the world and living in Orlando, I couldn’t agree with this post more.
    Maybe the city should think about the safty of its citizens before we go spending millions on stuff like new arenas. Yes, it would be nice to have one and help out our local business economy – but how will it help if nobody feels safe enough to leave their homes to go there? And if crime keeps going up and up, the tourist money we value so much will begin to dwindle if people are too scared to our “family destination”.

  3. Terry Howard (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

    As well, we need to look at this as a leadership problem. No amount of increased taxes is going to go over the fact that the sheriff and chief have done jack with what they have had, which is no small potatoes in terms of funding and manpower. Like any business executive or professional sports coach, if you don’t produce results, we should show your butt the door without question and without hesitation. How long have our leadership remained the same? I’ll tell you, the exact same time frame that the crime has grown out of control. This is no coincidence, this is poor planning and poor management. Why are we not looking to people who have been successful, like hiring somebody that served under Guliani and benefits from the experience of the clean up that New York underwent? Why are we not looking to neighboring cities and counties that have been effectively dealing with crime? I believe there is a chief in Daytona who has been doing good work. Why do we think we are married to these people? They work for us, and if they aren’t doing their job, then they shouldn’t be working for us.

  4. The Masked Blogger (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 5:46 pm

    What Terry said!

  5. Steve M (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 6:09 pm

    Terry and TMB:

    Oh trust me, I completely agree. In fact I’m a little disappointed now that I didn’t mention the lackluster leadership. Obliged as always for picking up the slack.

    In the words of a great man: “This town needs an enema!”

  6. Patricia Heimburg-Small (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2007 @ 1:58 am

    I just wanted this comment to get to Steve Mullis. I am Patricia Small, the mother of Noel Heimburg. If I remember correctly, Steve is taking a class with my daughter Jennifer at UCF. I just want Steve to know how very much I appreciate his well written “blog”. Anything that we, collectively, can do to keep Noel’s case in people’s consciousness, is one thing we must do. There must be accountability for this explosion of crime. For we are all responsible, having soaked in our bath of complacency for so long. We allowed this to happen, while we looked the other way, didn’t pay attention, saying it won’t happen to me. Well, guess what, it certainly IS time to pay attention, because this violent crime that can destroy a whole family, is no longer neatly contained in a couple “bad areas” of town. It rears it’s ugly head in every segment of our community, and we can no longer afford to sweep it under the rug, giving our hard earned tax money to much less important things -projects which will bring even more population, even more crime, as crime attracts more crime. We simply can’t afford for our population to grow, unchecked, and not get this crime under control. We need a very, very tough approach to what has been tolerated here in Central Florida. We need judges to hold these juveniles ACCOUNTABLE. We have to STOP lowering the bar to accomodate the lowest common denominator. We need to do so much to solve this. It starts with children, giving them love and discipline, and our precious time. To give them values and direction in life. We need to free alot of parents from their drug addictions, so they CAN parent, so they can be TAUGHT to parent. We need mentors, we need to care for our fellow man. We need to connect with one another again. Just an example from county stats, there’s only 1.78 sworn officers per 1,000 citizens. We can hardly expect our law enforcement to do the whole job. We are the eyes and ears. We are the ones living next door to people whom we have no clue of their background. We need to take personal responsibility, and when we have the dreaded experience of witnessing these senseless violent crimes, WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ALL, to come forward with that information! Hello…this is your wakeup call. May those that care about their quality of life take action, as there are so many ways to be a part of the solution. In peace, Noel’s loving Mom

  7. Priscilla (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2007 @ 8:50 am

    I’m not waiting for a violent crime to happen in my neighborhood. We (the people on my street) are forming a neighborhood watch. Our first meeting is this month. You all know the saying, “the squeaky wheel get the grease”, well the police will be hearing from us as often as it takes to let the people in charge know we will not be quite victims. And if there are not enough police on staff to cover the calls for safer streets, then we will take our voices to the state government. We have to right to feel safe and have the responsibility to ourselves to be involved.

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