DNA on beer cans leads to suspicion in 1996 of the death of a Florida store clerk stabbed 73 times – FOX13 News Memphis

ORLANDO – Saliva on his discarded beer cans led to the arrest of a Florida man accused of stabbing a store clerk more than six dozen times in the winter of 1996.

Kenneth Robert Stough Jr., 54, of Eustis, was arrested Tuesday and charged with first degree murder and theft with a deadly weapon in the cold case of the murder of Terence Leslie Paquette, 31. Stough is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail.

Paquette was found stabbed to death in the restroom of the Lil ‘Champ grocery store in Orlando on the morning of February 3, 1996. Paquette, the store manager, was preparing to open for the day he was killed.

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“He was stabbed 73 times. More to the chest, and his throat was actually slit. It was a very horrific and violent scene, ”said Brian Savelli, Orange County Sheriff’s Office detective. said in a video about the case.

Sheriff’s office officials said the case was the first for the agency to be resolved using genetic genealogy. Othram Inc., a private Texas-based laboratory specializing in the method, participated in the process.

All of Paquette’s family have died since his assassination, but authorities have informed several of his friends of the arrest in the case.

A macabre scene

Paquette, a relatively new Orlando resident, arrived at Lil ‘Champ between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. each day to prepare for the store to open at 6 a.m. The store’s alarm was turned off at 5:39 a.m. on the morning of his assassination.

“He had only moved to Orlando a few years earlier, worked 60 hours a week and didn’t have many known partners,” Othram said in a press release.

Members of Parliament were called to the Clarcona Ocoee Road store shortly after 7 a.m. on February 3, 1996, after a regular passer-by noticed that the store’s lights were not on as usual. The man stopped and found the doors locked and no one visible inside, but said he was gone to continue his day.

A nagging suspicion prompted the man to call the sheriff’s office, according to court documents.

When an assistant arrived at the store, two employees of an armored vehicle department were outside.

“The two were at the Lil ‘Champ convenience store to collect the company’s cash deposit, but said the door was locked,” Savelli wrote in an arrest affidavit.

When two of the deputy’s supervisors arrived at the scene, the trio noticed a small amount of blood on the exterior door lock. When dispatchers called the store phone, no one answered.

A license plate check indicated that a white Honda parked outside belonged to Paquette. Calls to his home also went unanswered.

A Lil ‘Champ employee who lived nearby drove by and saw the growing police presence, the affidavit states. The man, who had closed the store the day before, provided MPs with a key to enter.

The scene they found inside was a scene of brutal violence. Paquette lay dead, covered in blood, on the floor of the store’s bathroom.

The forensic pathologist who subsequently performed Paquette’s autopsy counted a total of 73 stab wounds on the head, neck, torso and extremities of the man who was killed. Multiple wounds penetrated his heart and both lungs.

Authorities determined that Paquette’s killer stole approximately $ 1,000 from the store’s safe before taking Paquette’s keys and locking the front door upon leaving. The keys were never found.

Detectives followed the leads, but without witnesses to the crime, those leads were quickly exhausted. According to Othram, authorities were able to exclude some people as suspects in 2003 based on evidence at the crime scene, but the case has not been resolved.

WFTV in Orlando reported that the investigation was reopened in 2013, with little progress. Six years later, in 2019, Paquette’s murder became the focus of the new Cold Affairs unit of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Savelli was re-examining the case when the idea of ​​genetic genealogy occurred to him.

The method, which uses a known DNA profile to reverse engineer a family tree for the unknown suspect, became a popular new investigative tool in 2018 after California authorities used it to identify Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. as the notorious Golden State Killer.

“I just thought that if someone was stabbed 73 times, there must be some extra DNA that was not the victim’s,” he added. Savelli said.

There was.

Check out the images from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office below. Editor’s Note: Video Contains Graphic Images.

Detectives in 1996 had found numerous droplets of blood beyond what was found on and around Paquette’s body. According to court records, the blood pattern was consistent with the killer getting injured in the violent attack and then walking around the store as his wounds were bleeding.

Samples of the front door barrel, the push bar on the door, a lottery machine behind the counter, and the handle of a beverage freezer have been submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for investigation. tests in 1996. The blood did not belong to Paquette but to a single stranger.

Over 23 years later, the FDLE turned to Othram, who used advanced DNA technology to retest the beverage freezer handle sample. The company used its forensic-grade genome sequencing to create a genealogical profile, according to a press release.

“Upon successful generation of the profile, Othram referred the profile to the FDLE, where FDLE investigators used forensic genetic genealogy to focus on possible suspects.” the press release says.

Detectives uploaded the data to GEDMatch and Family Tree, two public ancestry databases. The family tree they then constructed indicated that the blood sample was from someone with genetic ties to Kenneth Stough Sr. and his wife.

This led authorities to the couple’s three children: Kenneth Stough Jr. and his two older brothers, Savelli said.

“I was able to determine that Kenneth Robert Stough Jr. lived near Terrence Paquette in February 1996”, Savelli wrote in the arrest affidavit.

Read the Affidavit of Arrest below.

The men’s apartments were across from each other and both complexes were within a mile of the store.

Investigators also learned that Stough, then 28, had previously worked at Lil ‘Champ.

Armed with circumstantial evidence, authorities were able to secure a warrant in August to put Stough under surveillance, including surreptitiously placing a GPS device on his Chevy Equinox.

Savelli was following Stough on the afternoon of September 14 when he saw him throwing a gray garbage bag in a public dumpster outside a CITGO convenience store. After Stough left, the detective immediately secured the dumpster and removed the bag.

Inside were several cans of Budweiser beer. Crime scene workers at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office dabbed the beer cans for DNA and submitted the samples to the FDLE lab for analysis.

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The DNA profile of one of the cans matches the person who left the blood on the freezer door handle, court documents allege.

When questioned, Stough admitted to working in the convenience store but did not admit the crime, authorities said.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said the Paquette case is a good example of why the department created a unit dedicated to unresolved cases, WFTV reported.

“Just because we don’t arrest a case in a day or a few weeks or even a few months does not mean that we are abandoning our victims and their families. ” Mina said.

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