15-year-old student murder cold case solved

Odette Odendaal
Nov 08, 2018
11:59 A.M.

Genetic genealogy just helped in making the 15th cold case arrest when a man got arrested on Friday for a murder he committed 17 years ago.


It is a helpful tool that enables investigators to identify individuals found based on the DNA they left behind using comparative analysis.

They found Christine Franke in her Audubon Park apartment with a gunshot wound to the head, thought initially to result from a robbery.

There was DNA evidence found, left by the killer, but they could not test it in ways needed to make an arrest at the time. Many years later, in 2016, authorities generated a composite image of the killer based on a sample of his DNA, but it generated no results.


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About 6 months ago the DNA sample got sent to an open-source DNA database known as GEDmatch. The sample identified three relatives and Detective Michael Fields said during a press conference:

“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 new sample of DNA obtained got analyzed by the original crime scene analyst, who was on the case 17 years prior, and determined that it was a DNA match for the killer. Benjamin Holmes, 38, got arrested for the first-degree murder of Christine Franke in 2001.


In spite of the evidence against him, Holmes has denied allegations, and the police are yet to find a connection between Christine Franke and Benjamin Holmes.

Another one of the 15 cases where genetic genealogy led to a suspect’s arrest took place in late October. Twenty-one years ago a young woman named Lorrie Ann Smith was found dead in her Georgia bedroom.

Smith fought back leading to her killer leaving blood DNA behind, no sign of an actual robbery, forced entry or sexual assault was found. Years after her murder in 1997, police are finally able to make an arrest.


Recent genetic genealogy testing performed on the blood found at the crime scene found a familial match to the suspect. After obtaining a search warrant to collect the DNA of Jerry Lee, the result of the testing revealed to be a match to the DNA found at the crime scene.

Jerry Lee got arrested last Thursday at a hotel in Alabama and taken to Georgia where he is booked at the Fulton County Jail and charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and murder.


His first court appearance was due on Friday although the status on his legal counsel is not confirmed. On the odd occasion, it happens that cold cases get solved by means of confession.

In 1986 a man named Russel Haines living in the men-only low-income housing in Longview, Washington called the Oregon Way Hotel, was found strangled to death.

The police didn’t have enough evidence to charge anyone for the crime, however, on July 6, 2018, a man walked into the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice and confessed to the murder of Russell Haines.


Glenn Adams, 58 got booked and charged with first-degree murder and robbery a day later, on July 7. The reason Glenn Adams decided to make the confession about a crime he committed 32 years ago is wanting to make things right.

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