Police: DNA match leads to indictment in 2002 slaying



APOPKA. Fla. - Apopka police and State Attorney Jeff Ashton announced Wednesday that a grand jury has indicted a man in connection with a 2002 murder.

Channel 9's Kathi Belich learned that Dwight Berch, 54, was convicted in Lake County of aggravated assault with a weapon in 2010 and sent to prison. At that time he had to give a DNA sample for the nationwide database. The database linked his DNA to the slaying of Tina Lawson. Lawson, 25, was killed in late December 2002.

Workers at Errol Estates in Apopka, which was under construction at the time of Lawson's death, found her body on the street. 

On Wednesday authorities told Belich that Lawson had been strangled.

Since learning of Berch's DNA match three years ago, investigators have been working to bring charges against him before he is released from state prison.

His release is scheduled for next week, but now investigators say he'll be charged with murder, will stay behind bars until he is returned to the Orange County Jail.

"I have spoken with (Lawson's) foster mother, who is local, and her biological mother, who is out of state, and they are both excited that something has come to light and justice is going to be served," said Apopka Police Chief Robert Manley.

At the time of her death Lawson was described as a transient. Court records show she had several arrests for prostitution.

Prosecutors would not say if Berch is suspected in any other slayings.
Apopka police said this is their first cold case that was solved by the Joint Homicide Task Force.

They said that while they are happy to have made progress in Lawson's case, they still have 10 unsolved cases.