Loved Ones Mourn Jason Marous, Ask for Answers After Murder

Jason Marous (left) with his father, Chip Marous. Courtesy of Chip Marous.

The rain stopped just in time for a dinner at Tulio’s on Jan. 6, a dinner honoring the life of Jason Marous.

Among the group of friends and family, they donned his favorite color, orange, as well as custom Nikes with his name on them, beaded bracelets with his name and turtles, and around the neck of his mother, Debbie Lawrence, is a necklace with the letter “J” as well as a charm with his thumbprint on it. She came down from Ohio for the occasion with her son and niece, joining Marous’ local friends.

While the group laughed and ordered drinks, in the back of their minds they were all facing the solemn occasion: the one-year anniversary that Marous had been shot and killed, left for dead in his vehicle outside his Fort Lauderdale apartment.

“There's no book of what to do when someone gets murdered,” Lawrence said. “Your mind wanders. Who the F would do this to my son? Who? He was an innocent person.”

An Unsolved Crime

Marous had just turned 36 two weeks before he was shot to death in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, 2023. He was in a secret five-month relationship with a married man, according to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and the boyfriend told police they were going to meet up at Eagle in Wilton Manors.

After 1:30 in the morning, he never showed up and was not responding to calls or texts. At around 3:45 a.m. the boyfriend called a Lyft to go to Marous’ apartment in Middle River Terrace and used a hidden key to go inside and saw that no one was home. When he went outside to the parking lot, a neighbor pointed at Marous’ red Ford Edge, believing that he was asleep at the wheel.

When the boyfriend investigated, though, he saw that Marous had a wound to his neck and was bleeding — he called the police, who pronounced him dead at the scene as a result of a gunshot wound. The boyfriend called a local friend as well as Ted Theophylactos, Marous' best friend in Ohio, who was then responsible for delivering the bad news to Marous’ family. That included his older brother, Jeff Marous.

“It was probably one of the worst experiences in my life, hearing that screeching,” Jeff said of calling his mother. “I can still hear that sound.”

Word spread throughout the family in Ohio, and the miles felt epic between them and Marous so they called a local friend, Garric Sacca, to go to the scene and confirm the news. When he arrived at the apartment in Middle River Terrace, there was crime scene tape and cop cars surrounding Marous’ truck.

It was true, he was dead.

The night before, Sacca and his boyfriend had dinner with Marous. The group walked together to Lit and then went their separate ways for the evening.

“When I went to his funeral — I didn't think I was going to live through it — there were over 700 people at his funeral. It was like a prince had died. I’m serious. I’ve never, ever, ever seen anything like it… he was that special,” Sacca said.

marous family 1

Friends and family gathered at Tulio's in Wilton Manors on the one-year anniversary of Jason Marous' murder, wearing his favorite color, orange. (Photo by Christiana Lilly)

A Place He Belonged

Marous moved down to Fort Lauderdale in April 2014. He had recently come out to his family and he wanted to move to a bigger, more LGBTQ-friendly community and find out who he was. Sacca said that in South Florida, “it really was like he came here and took a breath for the first time.”

The two dated for almost four years and enjoyed paddleboarding and kayaking — much of Marous’ Instagram is photos of him running on the beach or working on his backyard — and even though their romantic relationship ended, the two stayed close friends.

Selena Trivisonno, Marous’ cousin, remembered how when their aunt died young, he brought her beloved cat, Buttons, to the funeral so that they could say goodbye. When she would visit multiple times a year, they would go to the beach, visit the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, go shopping, and dance the night away.

“[My husband and I] wanted to retire down here, get a place down here. We were already thinking of our future with him down here,” Trivisonno says. “We feel him more here. We have so many wonderful memories.”

While friends and family toasted to Marous in Wilton Manors, Theophylactos hosted a gathering at his home in Ohio to honor his best friend’s life. The two met through work in 2010 — Theophylactos is in real estate, and as a gay man, he said it wasn’t often you had gay colleagues in the construction industry. He invited him out for lunch, and they became like brothers, he said. His favorite memory was attending St. Pete Pride together in 2022.

“I'll never have another friend like that. Nobody is going to check that many boxes, the way he would look after me,” Theophylactos said. “We always had so, so much fun. So many memorable times. I’m really blessed to have had that. If people can have just one friend in life like that, they’re good.”

Finding Justice

Since Marous’ murder, Lawrence, Theophylactos and Jeff have come down to Fort Lauderdale multiple times, from helping clear out the apartment to hanging fliers around the neighborhood and speaking with the press.

“Without exposure, this can go cold,” Theophylactos says.

A year later, no arrests have been made and a $50,000 reward has been put up by Broward Crime Stoppers and the family for anyone who comes forward with a lead that leads to the arrest of the shooter. There’s little to go on right now, but police have released a video of a man walking down the street around the time of the shooting (watch the video here).

Friends and family are not convinced that Marous’ murder was a random act of violence. Nothing was missing from Marous or his truck, including his wallet, iPhone and Apple watch. They also believe that the neighborhood doesn’t make sense for someone to wait for a crime of opportunity.

“That math doesn’t math for me and his close friends who loved him dearly, nor his family, but we don’t have any other leads to prove us otherwise,” Theophylactos said.

marous flier

A flier for information on Jason Marous' death, outside of his Middle River Terrace apartment. (Photo by Christiana Lilly)

Missing Jason

On Dec. 22, what would have been his 37th birthday, Lawrence brought Pepsi, tequila, and a cupcake to her son’s grave. She was joined by her family and Theophylactos and took a “pretend” shot of tequila and laughed that she “would have danced, but it was really cold.”

In July, a mural of Marous dancing in a crowd with a plaque was added to the Fieldhouse Gymnasium, an LGBTQ-affirming space, in Lakewood, Ohio in his honor.

Lawrence remembers that, like every Friday, she texted her son, “TGIF!” When he didn’t respond, she figured he was running late for work at his construction job. She soon learned that wasn’t the case when her middle son called her.

“I just went down on my knees, and it’s just like you see in the movies,” she said.

As she waits for justice, Lawrence said she has started writing a letter to her son’s murderer — about what they’ve done to her family and friends, and how she’s slowly learning to forgive them.

Fort Lauderdale is a place with mixed feelings for Marous’ loved ones — Theophylactos said the city took their friend from them twice. But while it’s the place where his life ended, it’s also one where they knew he felt at home. He would constantly send selfies from the beach and tell them that after a bad day at work, he was planning on sitting on the sand to watch the waves come in.

When Jeff and his mother arrived in Fort Lauderdale for the anniversary, they got up at 6 in the morning to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. In the sand, they drew a heart with the words “Jay 1/6/23.”

“I wanted to get down here to see if I could feel him,” Jeff said. “It’s probably the first time I've felt at peace.”

If you have any information regarding the murder of Jason Marous, contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477 or


Phone: 954-514-7095
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2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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