Police in Florida have reported that they have solved the 1991 murder case that became known as the “Valentine Jane Doe Homicide.” The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and police in Texas used DNA samples to identify both the victim and her killer. The man will not face charges as he was murdered in Tarrant County, Texas, in 1992. The DNA samples that broke the case were collected at both murder scenes.
The murder case attracted a great deal of media attention at the time and has been the subject of several true crime television shows. A MCSO representative said that the case file contains over 4,000 pages. The investigation was launched after the body of a teenager was found by windsurfers on a trail beside U.S. Route 1 near Big Pine Key in February 1991. Investigators determined that she had been assaulted, raped and then strangled with her bikini bra. Witnesses told detectives that they had seen the woman hitchhiking on U.S. Route 1 on the evening before her body was discovered.
The victim has been identified as an 18-year-old New York woman. Detectives say that she was not reported missing because her parents are both deceased. Police have determined that the Texas man identified as her killer lived in the Miami area in 1990. He was 31 years of age when he died.
Juries tend to find DNA evidence extremely convincing, but its reliability may be challenged in certain circumstances. Attorneys with violent crimes experience in criminal law could argue that tissue samples were placed at a crime scene by a third party to mislead law enforcement, or they could claim that forensic experts reached unsound conclusions because the samples they tested were degraded. However, when DNA evidence appears to be solid and likely to lead to a guilty verdict, attorneys may suggest resolving the case through a plea agreement.