Navy airman’s 1984 slaying solved through genealogy, Seminole County sheriff says

in Sanford News & Events


SANFORD, Fla. – A Jacksonville man has been charged with murder in the 1984 Seminole County cold case of Navy Airman Apprentice Pamela Cahanes. His arrest is the culmination of more than three decades of investigative efforts, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said.

Cahanes, of Stillwater, Minnesota, was 25 when her body was found near Sanford on Aug. 5, 1984. She was slain two days after graduating from the Navy Training Center in Orlando, Lemma said. Her body was found near a vacant home on West 1st Street, now Riverview Avenue. Detectives said she was strangled.

Lemma held a news conference Thursday to announce the arrest of Thomas Lewis Garner, 59. The sheriff said Garner served in the U.S. Navy at the same time as Cahanes and later became a dental hygienist living a relatively normal life.

“He was probably under the belief that he was getting away with murder,” Lemma said, adding that Garner has not admitted to killing Cahanes.