SANFORD, Fla. — Seminole County says it's solved the 34-year-old murder of a Navy recruit.
- Pamela Cahanes was found murdered in 1984
- DNA evidence led to Thomas Garner
- Garner was a classmate at the Orlando Naval Training Center
Sheriff Dennis Lemma says investigators arrested Thomas Garner for the murder of Pamela Cahanes, who was found dead in Sanford in August 1984, near a vacant home. She was 25.
Cahanes had just finished her naval training at the Orlando Naval Training Center, in the area that is now Baldwin Park.
Garner, 59, was a classmate of Cahanes's.
Lemma said DNA evidence, which is now more advanced than it was in 1984, helped match the murder to Garner, who was now living in Jacksonville, and working as a dental hygienist.
Investigators used genetic geneaology research, which eventually led to Garner. Lemma said DNA analysis found Garner was a 700 billion to 1 match.
"I know nothing there's that we can do to take away the damage, the fact that this crime occurred," Lemma said. "But over the years, we’ve built a personal relationship with this family. I can’t imagine having a loved one brutally attacked and murdered."
Garner denies his involvement. He was taken without incident to Seminole County and booked into the jail.
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Lemma says the state began testing DNA evidence from the crime scene as early as 2000, but the technology did not exist, at the time, to match the DNA to people who were not already in the crime databases.