Fellow sailors relieved by arrest in 1984 Orlando Navy recruit murder

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Fellow sailors who have trained at the Naval training base in Orlando were relieved to learn an arrest has been made in the 1984 murder of 25-year-old Navy recruit Pamela Cahanes.

Deputies arrested Thomas Garner, 59, for her murder Wednesday.

Deputies said DNA from genetic testing linked Garner to the murder.


"Every year that went by that it didn't get solved I think everybody lost a little bit more hope,” Renata Cannon, chairperson of the RTC reunion group, said.

Cannon never personally met Cahanes but trained at the same base.

"We consider ourselves Navy brothers and sisters so Pamela was one of ours," Cannon said.

Two days after graduating from Navy basic training in 1984, Cahanes was found beaten and strangled to death in Sanford.

Investigators said Garner was a shipmate at the RTC in Orlando at the same time as Cahanes though back then, men and women trained separately.

"It's sickening really because it's just, it's a just a complete betrayal," Cannon said.

Cannon said Cahanes’ death had a major impact on recruits in the years that followed.

"We had to travel in groups,” Cannon said. “We had to go everywhere even on base. We did not travel alone."

Cannon said Cahanes’ fellow Navy brothers and sisters are hoping the arrest is a step toward closure.

"They're angry that it was another Navy sailor but they're extremely relieved," Cannon said.

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