Florida dental hygienist, 59, from Jacksonville, Florida arrested for 1984 cold case murder of female Navy graduate
Minnesota woman Pamela Cahanes, 25, was beaten and strangled to death on August 5, 1984, two days after graduating from the Orlando Naval Training Center in Florida
She was found beaten and strangled to death two days after graduating from the Orlando Naval Training Center in Florida
Her killer went free for 34 years after no DNA matches were found in the database
On Wednesday Florida dental hygienist Thomas Lewis Garner, 59, was arrested after he was traced using DNA on a genealogy database
Garner and Cahanes had been stationed at the Orlando Naval training center at the same time
He was traced after investigators used genealogy database Parabon Nanolabs to create a family tree using DNA found on her body and named him a suspect
Investigators trailed him and tested a dropped ‘personal item’ and found him to be a match
He is in custody, held on murder charges, but hasn’t admitted to committing the murder
Thomas Lewis Garner, 59, [photo], was identified using advanced genealogy technology in the cold case murder of Navy recruit Pamela Cahanes, who was found beaten and strangled to death in August 1984 in Orlando, Fla
The cold case of a female Navy recruit’s vicious murder in 1984 has finally been cracked nearly 35 years later thanks to a match found on a genealogy database.
Freshly minted seaman Pamela Cahanes, from Minnesota was just 25 when she was beaten and strangled to death, two days after graduating from Orlando Naval Training Center in August of 1984. Her white uniform was found strewn inches away from her body.
The killer went free for 34 years after investigators failed to find a match for her assailant’s DNA found on her body despite exhaustive testing.
Finally, on Wednesday Thomas Lewis Garner, 59, a dental hygienist from Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested for her murder after investigators tracked him down using genealogy service Parabon Nanolabs.
Garner and Cahanes had been stationed at the Orlando Naval training center at the same time. Authorities are not sure on how the two encountered each other.
Navy recruit Pamela Cahanes, 25, [photo] who was found beaten and strangled to death in August 1984 two days after she graduated from Naval trainig. Her killer has was identified using genealogy service Parabon Nanolabs
Investigators waited for DNA technology to advance and finally worked with Parabon NanoLabs to create Garner’s family tree and later narrow down to the suspect.
Authorities then trailed after Garner until he dropped a ‘personal item’ and they tested it for DNA and found it matched the evidence found on Cahanes’ body.
Local police set up this billboard to raise awareness about Cahanes’ unsolved murder in Florida, hoping to receive helpful tips, but it failed to yield results for decades
The odds of the DNA belonging to anyone other than Garner is 700 billion to one. ‘We were certain that he was the person responsible for the murder. Actually, it was scientific confirmation,’ Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said on Thursday, announcing the breakthrough arrest.
Garner was arrested Wednesday at his Jacksonville home and was taken to Seminole County Jail where he’s being held without bond on a first-degree murder charge, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
However, he has not admitted to killing Cahanes on August 5, 1984.
She was found face-down in her underwear a yard of a vacant home covered in blood near the academy. It did not appear that she had been sexually assaulted.