Jacksonville man charged 34 years after Orlando Navy recruit's murder given bond

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Jacksonville man accused of killing a Navy recruit 34 years ago, now has the chance to get out of jail.

A judge granted a $250,000 bond to Thomas Garner, 59, on Friday. This comes one day after deputies announced his arrest on first-degree murder charges.

Garner was arrested Wednesday morning in the 1984 beating and strangling of a 25-year-old Orlando Navy recruit, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said Thursday morning during a news conference.


The Seminole County sheriff said genealogy testing led them to Garner as a suspect in the death of Pamela Cahanes, 34 years ago.

Garner and Cahanes were both in the Navy and living on base at the time of the death.

Cahanes’ body was discovered Aug. 5, 1984, outside an abandoned home on West 1st Street near Sanford, investigators said.

Lemma said Garner's DNA was discovered beneath Cahanes' fingernails, because she fought and struggled to pull his hands off of her neck.

READ MORE: Fellow sailors relieved by arrest in 1984 Orlando Navy recruit murder

"Our hearts go out to Pamela Cahanes’ family members, who have been steadfast in their search for justice," Lemma said. "Thanks to decades of persistence from our Major Crimes Unit and partners from (the Naval Criminal Investigative Service) and (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), we have taken a giant step forward.”

Garner, a dental hygienist with a previously clean record, has not been cooperative with detectives, Lemma said.

"The amount of years that this family has had to wait for justice -- it is extremely sad," he said.

The judge found probable cause in the case and there are conditions to Garner’s bond.

Even though the judge granted him bond, he'll have restrictions that include a GPS monitor, bans on leaving the state, talking to witnesses and possessing weapons.

Watch report Todd Ulrich's 1984 report on Cahanes' death below:

On Friday, the state argued no bond for Garner due to him being a possible threat to the community and this once-cold case being a capital felony. The public defender argued Garner has lived a crime-free life.

Garner will have an arraignment on April 30.

Watch the sheriff's news conference below:

We are live at a press conference with Sheriff Lemma as he makes a major announcement regarding a long-term investigation. *Please note: Comments will not be monitored during this event.*

Posted by Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, March 14, 2019

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