Florida College Student's Cold Case Slaying Cracked Using DNA, Police Say

Police have made an arrest in connection with the 2001 slaying of 25-year-old Florida college student Christine Franke.

November 13, 2018
Christine Franke [Orlando Police Department]

Christine Franke [Orlando Police Department]

Christine Franke [Orlando Police Department]

By: Catherine Townsend

ORLANDO, FL — In 2001, a 25-year-old Florida student was killed.

Almost 20 years later, investigators now allege the cold case has been cracked thanks to advances in DNA technology.

The Orlando Police Department reportedly said on Monday that 38-year-old Benjamin L. Holmes has been arrested in connection with the slaying of Christine Franke.

According to FOX News, Franke was an education major at the University of Central Florida. In October 2001, she was reportedly found dead in her Audubon Park apartment.

The college student had been robbed and sexually assaulted. The killer allegedly left DNA at the scene.

The Orlando Police Department reportedly worked with a company called Parabon Nanolabs to run a DNA sample. The company was able to create a computer-generated composite of what Christine's killer could look like.

"We knew everything about his genetic make-up, but we did not know his name," Detective Michael Fields said at a press conference, according to FOX News.

Phenotype and mug shot of Benjamin Holmes [Orlando Police Department]

Phenotype and mug shot of Benjamin Holmes [Orlando Police Department]

Phenotype and mug shot of Benjamin Holmes [Orlando Police Department]

Police sent some DNA to Gedmatch, a public genealogy database – and allegedly got a match.

"We went out [and] we interviewed family members," Fields reportedly said. "We received DNA samples to compare against the killer's DNA through kinship testing. Through this testing, we were able to [compare] the kinship relationship between the killer and other family members. We eliminated most of the family using DNA genealogy and narrowed [it] down to Holmes and his brother.”
Police then allegedly obtained a discarded Gatorade bottle from Holmes’ brother and a cigar and beer can from Holmes, which they claim they witnessed him throwing away.

According to FOX News, authorities said the DNA on the beer can was an exact match to DNA found at the crime scene.

At a press conference, Franke’s mother Tina Franke reportedly called the arrest “a blessing for our family."

Holmes has denied any involvement in Franke’s murder and is being held without bond in the Orange County Jail.

Read more: Fox News

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