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License plate reader technology scores break in hit-and-run probe

Hit-and-run driver kills Eugene Murphy of Pal Beach Gardens. (WPEC)

A Palm Beach Gardens grandfather is dead after a fatal hit and run and Riviera Beach police say they have a person of interest in custody along with his car.

Eugene Murphy, Jr., 78, was hit and killed early Tuesday morning on the Blue Heron Bridge while jogging in the bike lane.

As soon as police responded to the scene, they blocked the area off for hours and spoke with witnesses who said they watched it happen.

Riviera Beach Police later arrested Matthew Archer, 35, after they tried to pull him over. He was finally stopped in West Palm Beach where he was arrested for fleeing and eluding police.

He faced a Palm Beach County judge on Wednesday and as of last check Wednesday night, he remains locked up at the Palm Beach County jail on $10,000 bond.

Riviera Beach police say in addition to the witnesses they spoke with, the Real Time Crime Center is technology that helps them solve cases just like this one.

They have a room full of television screens that show real-time information of what’s going on in many different parts of the city. Some say it may be Big Brother but the police believe it is a crime-fighting tool they need.

In addition to the witnesses, it also helped them locate the car through its license plate recognition system.

The technology helped them to find the car and its driver, Matthew Archer.

Officer Ossel Harrison of the Riviera Beach Police Department is behind the controls of the system.

“It gives officers real-time information,” he told us.

The most important part of the program he went on to add is “sometimes when you’re lost in your investigative capacity, you need something else to give you additional leads to get to something else and that is what this does.”

After interviewing the witnesses, investigators then turned to the Real Time Crime Center.

“It’ s a two-way street,” Officer Harrison said, referring to talking with people in the community and the technology. “We need the resources of the citizens, as well.”

Meantime, we spoke with Murphy’s wife of 49 years on the telephone Wednesday night, along with his son.

They said they moved to Palm Beach County in 1970 and started a law firm that he worked at until his retirement in 2008.

His wife also talked about her husband’s love for running and how he loved marathons and triathlons.

He ran every Tuesday.

He was killed on Tuesday.

With Archer behind bars, the investigation is ongoing.

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