JACKSONVILLE – Halloween decorations are still at the front door. So is the crime scene tape that warns anyone from entering the house on Harbor Island Drive.
While Susan Elizabeth Mauldin won’t be coming back to her Fleming Island home after being reported missing more than three months ago, law enforcement officials said they will bring her remains back to Clay County to provide semblance of closure to her friends and neighbors.
When hours turned to days and days turned to weeks after she disappeared last October, few held hope of her being found alive. Those fears were realized when a search team found her in a South Georgia landfill on Wednesday. Dental records confirmed the worst: it was Mauldin.
Within hours, the person of interest in her disappearance, Corey Louis Binderin, a 45-year-old handyman from Fleming Island, was charged with her murder.
Officials with the State Attorney’s Office, Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed Mauldin’s death – and charges against Binderin – during a Saturday morning joint press conference in Jacksonville.
Binderin had been paid to remodel Mauldin’s bathroom. When he didn’t do the work, she demanded her money back. She was reported missing shortly after that.
“This morning we are confirming the remains of 65-year-old Clay County resident Susan Mauldin were recovered last week from Chesser Island Landfill in Folkston, Georgia,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson said. “Last night [Friday], 45-year-old Corey Binderim was detained for the murder of Susan Mauldin.”
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said detectives found evidence inside her home that connected her disappearance to Binderin. The agency’s initial focus was at the Rosemary Hill Waste Management Transfer Facility in Green Cove Springs. Detectives then shifted their search to an area the size of “a baseball diamond” at the Chesser Island Landfill.
“Information developed early on in the investigation that the Rosemary Hill Waste Management Transfer Facility in Clay County, Florida, was a place of interest for the detectives,” Daniels said. “This facility is a transfer station for Clay County waste to be moved to the Chesser Island Landfill in Folkston, Georgia. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office contacted the FBI for assistance for this part of the investigation. Several logistical meetings were held between the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the State Attorney’s Office and Waste Management. A search area was identified and secured, and a logistical search into the landfill continued until a search date was established.”
As many as 213 officials from Florida and Georgia law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI, scoured the area, sifting through nearly 7,300 tons of garbage until a correction’s officer with CCSO found a partial skull on Jan. 29, FBI Special Agent in Charge Rachel Rojas said. Mauldin was positively identified two days later.
“We know how difficult this is for all of Susan Mauldin’s friends and neighbors,” Rojas said. “But we’re also pleased and thankful that we have some answers we can provide.
“The Chesser Island Landfill is very organized. They directed us to the area where she was most likely to be and they preserved that area. The held it by diverting all incoming debris to other areas of the landfill. Over the next few weeks, Clay County detectives pushed their investigation forward until they felt a search could be the key to this.”
“Without the FBI, we would not have found Susan Mauldin,” Nelson said.
Daniels said he doesn’t believe anyone else was involved in Mauldin’s death.
Binderin was arrested for forgery on Dec. 2 and was in the Duval County Jail when Mauldin’s body was found. He’s expected in court in Jacksonville for that charge on Thursday. He then will be taken to Clay County to face charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
Mauldin is the first person found at the landfill since deputies unearthed the remains of 7-year-old Somer Thompson in 2009. She was kidnapped while walking home from Grove Park Elementary in Orange Park on Oct. 19. Her body was discovered two days later at Chesser Island.
Authorities also believe a missing Nassau County hairstylist Joleen Cummings’ remains are buried at Chesser Island. She’s been missing since 2018.
Nelson said federal, state and local agencies worked tirelessly to find Mauldin.
“This is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Nelson said. “They did this for one reason: A relentless search for truth.”