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Florida Navy veteran charged with 1984 murder of fellow recruit
Pamela Cahanes was a 25-year-old U.S. Navy recruit at the Orlando Naval Training Center when she was beaten and strangled in 1984.
Now a 59-year-old Jacksonville man who was a military classmate of hers 34 years ago is in a county jail in Sanford, charged in her death, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.
Thomas Lewis Garner was arrested early Wednesday outside his apartment in the 1300 block of Dunn Avenue on Jacksonville's Northside, then taken to Seminole County on a first-degree pre-meditated murder charge, according to authorities.
Standing next to a photograph of Cahanes in her uniform, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma announced Garner's arrest, saying police fulfilled a promise to make sure families of murder victims get closure.
"If you think about this case and the amount of years that this family has had to wait for justice, it is extremely sad to know that our victim's mom had passed away and never had the opportunity to see this," Lemma said. "... But there are many brothers, sisters and family members, and I am convinced she is looking down from heaven right now knowing this is a day of release as this person is held accountable and responsible for what they have done."
Cahanes was born and raised in Minnesota then decided to enlist in the Navy, Lemma said. In the 1980s the Navy Training Center in Orlando was where basic training was conducted, and Cahanes graduated from that program Aug. 2, 1984. Her last day alive included a shopping trip at a mall near the training base early on Aug. 4. She was last seen about 8 p.m. that night with an unidentified man in front of the base, Lemma said.
Cahanes' body was discovered the next day in the side yard of a house in Sanford, beaten and strangled, the Sheriff's Office said.
"She appeared to have been been dumped there only wearing her undergarments, her Navy clothes close by, with a few other personal items that were found in the field," the sheriff said. "She was found there at 7 a.m. by somebody passing by. At the time it was a vacant home that was up for sale."
Investigator Bob James, now retired, worked on the case for 25 years, resubmitting case evidence each time DNA technology was improved, Lemma said. In 2000, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement re-examined DNA evidence from the dead woman's underwear, but it revealed no results since it only searched through the records of people who had been arrested, the sheriff said.
In 2005 the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory helped investigators by creating a DNA profile that gave them more information, the sheriff said. And in 2015 they worked with Identifinders, a forensic genealogical service, and found the DNA profile fit a black male.
Working with FDLE and other DNA experts in recent years, they later produced a full profile that was used to create a better idea of the suspect, the sheriff said. That led to an investigation of Garner, who served in the U.S. Navy at the same time as Cahanes.
"It was scientific confirmation that his DNA matched that of the person responsible for the brutal killing," Lemma said.
Two investigators arrested Garner at his home, then went to Minnesota to be with the Cahanes family as Lemma announced the arrest.
Garner, a dental hygienist in Jacksonville with "a relatively clean record," made no statement to investigators when arrested and is not cooperating with them, Lemma said. Garner faced a minor battery charge while in the Navy. But he has no arrests in Jacksonville, according to Duval County jail records.
"He's probably flown under the radar," Lemma said. "... It's extremely bizarre to think someone could commit a crime like this and go on and lead a normal life."
Investigators are also looking into similar cases, but there is no evidence that connects Garner to them, Lemma said.
Investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and FDLE helped in the investigation.
©2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The decorated Marine pilot whose heroics helped stop the 1973 New Orleans sniper attack has died at 84
The decorated U.S. Marine Corps pilot who risked his life and military career to help New Orleans police halt the Howard Johnson's hotel sniper attack that shattered the quiet of a Sunday morning and claimed seven lives in 1973 died Feb. 13 following a lengthy battle with cancer, according to his family.
Retired Lt. Gen. Charles "Chuck" Pitman Sr., whose heroics against Mark Essex that day earned him the eternal gratitude of city leaders and first responders, was 84.
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On Feb. 19, 1945, more than 70,000 U.S. Marines conducted an amphibious assault to take the Island of Iwo Jima from fortified Japanese forces. Over the next 36 days nearly 7,000 Marines would be killed during the battle, which is regarded as one of the bloodiest of World War II, as they faced hidden enemy artillery, machine guns, vast bunker systems and underground tunnels. Of the 82 Marines who earned the Medal of Honor during all of World War II, 22 medals were earned for actions on Iwo Jima.
Now, 75 years later, 28 Marines and Sailors who fought on Iwo Jima gathered to remember the battle at the 75th and final commemoration sunset ceremony Feb. 15, 2020, at the Pacific Views Event Center on Camp Pendleton, California.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has long been seen as an apologist for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom she met during a secret trip to Damascus in January 2017.
Most recently, a video was posted on Twitter shows Gabbard evading a question about whether Assad is a war criminal.
Since Gabbard is the only actively serving member of the military who is running for president — she is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard — Task & Purpose sought to clarify whether she believes Assad has used chlorine gas and chemical weapons to kill his own people.
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