Cold Case Solved
The body was found in the woods in 1966, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that some new information and modern day technology helped solve the case.
In the beginning, it seemed like a cut and dry case, but what it turned into was a mystery that lasted 41 years. In 1966, a skull and other skeletal remains were found near Cross Creek along with an i.d badge for 24 year old missing soldier named James Harold Thomas. There was only one problem.
"When they sent for his military record, his dental records sent to the
FBI did not match. We think they may have gotten the dental records
mixed up," Detective Robert Dean with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office said.
After the dental records didn't match, detectives didn't know where to go with their investigation, so they filed it in their cold case files. That is until they found out Thomas had a sister, and brought the D.N.A samples from her to UF so they could compare the two.
UF Biological Scientist Ginger Clark said, "You have your mother's mitochondrial D.N.A. In this case, he and his sister both have the same mitochondrial D.N.A. Because they had the same mother. So, we were looking at comparing those two DNAs which should be identical to make sure they were."
Because of the D.N.A. samples, the body has been identified as James Harold Thomas. It gives his sister, who is now 64, some closure in the death of her brother.
For years, investigators believed Thomas killed his companion, whose gear was found in his car, and then switched i.d.s with him. But now it seems he's the victim, and his killer is still on the loose.
"It looks at this time, he may have been killed by a blow to the back of the head. However, there was a weapon at the scene that had a spent round in the chamber, a .22 bolt-action rifle. However, there is no evidence of any gunshot wound. But there are pieces, because the body was out so long, there are pieces of the skeletal remains that are missing and were never recovered."
Since Thomas did not have connections to the area, authorities are now trying to figure out who accompanied him on the trip from the military base in Texas to Cross Creek. They are also going to send a death certificate to the military so that he will no longer be considered a deserter.
By David Hamilton, WCJB TV20 News
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