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Published On: Tue, Nov 6th, 2018

Florida: Benjamin Holmes arrested for 2001 cold case murder of Christine Franke after geneaology site links DNA

A DNA match from a genealogy website helped Orlando police detectives make in an arrest in the 2001 slaying of a University of Central Florida student.

Benjamin Holmes has been arrested for the shooting death of Christine Franke, 25, on October 21, 2001. Police announced the news yesterday afternoon, closing the open robbery case at Franke’s Audubon Park apartment.

Benjamin Holmes

Holmes, 38, is facing a first-degree murder charge after Parabon Nanolabs, a Virginia company working with the Orlando Police Department, ran a DNA sample from the scene of the crime through an open-source genealogy database and identified three people believed to be distant cousins of the killer, Det. Michael Fields said Monday.

Fields explained that the family tree was built and the most likely suspect was Holmes, so police obtained a warrant for his DNA and it was a match. He explained that officers interviewed hundreds of people and took close to 100 DNA samples – never finding the match.

“Despite hundreds of hours of investigation, Christine’s killer still walked free, keeping his secret,” Fields said.

“We went out, we interviewed family members, we received DNA samples to compare to the killer’s through DNA testing,” Fields said. “Through this testing, we were able to show the kinship relationship between the killer and different family members. We eliminated most of the family using genetic genealogy and eventually, we were able to narrow down the suspect list to two brothers, one of which was Benjamin Lee Holmes.”

The original crime scene analyst on the case 17 years ago analyzed the new sample obtained from Holmes and determined that it was a DNA match for the killer. Police said they haven’t found any connection between Christine Franke and Holmes.

Holmes was also charged with robbery with a firearm.

“I honestly never thought they would find him,” said Franke’s mother Tina, adding that she and her family are relieved “just having it settled in our minds and knowing he can’t hurt anyone else.”

She thanked authorities for their relentlessness in solving the case.

“We’re so overwhelmingly grateful for everything they’ve done for us,” Tina Franke said.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said the agency helped in the genealogy analysis in the case, something he hopes to do more of in the future.

“This case is proof that by combining genealogical, analytical, forensic and investigative expertise, law enforcement has a new tool in their tool belt to solve many cases,” Swearingen said. “Here in Orlando, our team is already working with other law enforcement agencies on genetic genealogy cases that could help develop leads and further additional investigations.”

California detectives used the same method back in July to identify Joseph James DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer cases.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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