Genetic Genealogist gives insight on the new technology used to solve 26 year-old cold case

Alan Lefferts, 71, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 11:19 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A cold case cracked.

DNA evidence was used to solve a murder at the Prince Murat Motel more than 25 years later.

71 year-old Alan Lefferts now facing a first degree murder charge after TPD says new technology played a significant role in his arrest.

Thanks to some new technology, TPD was able to reopen this cold case and find some closure for the family of victim James Branner.

The crime scene dates all the way back to 1996 at the Prince Murat Motel on North Monroe Street where James Branner was found dead in a room.

And thanks to the use of new technology, Detective Brittney Able helped crack the case leading to the arrest of the man they believed killed him more than 25 years later.

”I submitted the DNA that we did have on scene that we know was not the victims to FDLE and Parabon and they did some genealogy testing on it which then provided me with leads to follow up on,” shared Detective Able.

That new tech is called Investigative Genetic Genealogy Technology, which was originally used to connect family trees.

”We’re taking unidentified crime scene DNA from violent criminals or from unidentified remains and we’re trying to reverse engineer the identify of that person based on who they’re sharing DNA with in two genetic genealogy databases,” explained Parabon Chief Generic Genealogist CeCe Moore.

Law enforcement was then able to take this information and use it to create a short list of suspects.

”Florida created their own genealogy team at FDLE and so we’re able to work with them collaboratively in addition to the detectives on the case to help narrow it down to a very small number of possible individuals,” said Moore.

That information led to the arrest of Lefferts and showcasing the importance of continuing to work cold cases.

”Today is a reason why. We made an arrest yesterday more than 25 years later and I was able to give closure to families and it’s extremely important because they’ve been living with this for all these years and they finally have answers now,” expressed Detective Able.

Moore says Investigative Genetic Genealogy Technology can not only help make arrests but can also help exonerate those who did not commit crimes they’ve been charged for.

TPD says if you see or know something, say something so you can help them close out some more of these cold cases.

Lefferts was arrested in Baker County.

One of James Branner’s daughters says they want to thank TPD for their hard work in helping get justice for her dad.

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