FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WALA) - The Okaloosa County Sheriff's office made an arrest in a 15-year-old homicide case thanks to DNA evidence, they said on Wednesday.
Officials said 37-year-old Harry Leach of Missouri will be charged with one count of capital murder and one count of kidnapping in connection with the 1997 homicide of Pluma Bell Sanford, 73.
"I worked on this case as an investigator all those years ago", said Sheriff Larry Ashley. "It was heart-wrenching to see how this woman who had given so much was left in her home and was attacked, brutally attacked and assaulted."
Sanford, who served as a volunteer in her church and the local hospital, died from asphyxia due to strangulation. She was found dead in her Fort Walton Beach Home in August 1997 with blunt force trauma to her head and face, as well as broken ribs.
Investigator Brad Embry was assigned the cold case in 2010 and re-submitted evidence to the department of law enforcement to obtain a more complete DNA profile; he submitted that to the Combined DNA Indexing System, CODIS.
Leach, who had been arrested in Missouri in Nov. 2012, matched the DNA profile from the Sanford case and were able to place him at her home as a repairman around the time of the murder.
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