DNA from suspect in Seminole County cold case murder possibly linked to another cold case in Hawaii

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Jacksonville man who is about to stand trial for the 1984 cold case murder of a Navy recruit in Seminole County is being looked at as a possible suspect in a second cold case murder in Hawaii.

Detectives at the Honolulu Police Department got a preliminary match from DNA that was entered into the Combined DNA Index System taken from murder suspect Thomas Garner.

READ: Jacksonville man charged 34 years after Orlando Navy recruit’s murder given bond

Garner was arrested in 2019 for the 1984 cold case murder of Pamela Cahanes, a navy recruit who was found murdered and sexually assaulted in the yard of an abandoned home in Sanford.

Garner’s DNA preliminarily matched DNA found in the Sept. 19, 1982, murder of Kathy Hicks in Honolulu.

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

Hicks was a Delta Airlines employee from Atlanta. Investigators said her body was found dumped in a ditch.

According to a search warrant filed to obtain Garner’s DNA, Hicks told friends she was at a bar near what was called Hickam Air Force Base at the time. Garner was stationed in Hawaii from 1980 until Oct. 29, 1982.

READ: Jacksonville man charged 34 years after Orlando Navy recruit’s murder given bond

Bob Kealing with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said the science that provided a possible link between the cases didn’t exist back when these murders took place.

“The fact that they were so meticulous in collecting this biological evidence now with this new evidence with the advances in DNA technology we are finally gratefully able to bring justice families loved ones cold case victims all across the country,” Kealing said.

Garner has not been charged in the cold case in Honolulu at this time as that investigation continues.

Read the entire search warrant below:

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.