UPDATE: Suspect in Tallahassee cold case murder indicted 26 years later

Alan Lefferts, 71, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 2:20 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:10 PM EDT
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Tallahassee, Fla (WCTV) - A Leon County grand jury has indicted a man for a murder that remained unsolved for 26 years.

Alan Lefferts was indicted on first degree murder charges Thursday in the 1996 death of James Branner. Branner was found strangled in a room at the Prince Murat motel.

Lefferts was arrested in June after Tallahassee Police used new DNA technology to analyze evidence at the scene.

For our previous coverage see below.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee Police Department says it has arrested a man for murder in connection to a 1996 homicide at the Prince Murat Motel.

Alan Lefferts, 71, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder after the Tallahassee Police Department reopened the case in 2020 so officers could use new forensic technology to find leads, the press release says.

The homicide Lefferts is the suspect in happened on July 2, 1996, at 745 North Monroe St, TPD says. Evidence collected at the time and a full autopsy showed the death was a homicide, and the victim was identified as James Branner.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement prepared samples from the DNA found at the original crime scene when the case was reopened in 2020. FDLE’s genetic genealogy team and Parabon NanoLabs found an investigative lead in 2021, pointing TPD detectives to Lefferts as the suspect, the press release says.

TPD says Lefferts was then arrested “following a thorough investigation.”

“Solving a case that occurred nearly 26 years ago speaks volumes to the dedication and great collaborative effort between our state and local law enforcement partners,” TPD Deputy Chief Jason Laursen said. “Our detectives and forensic specialists work tirelessly every day to seek justice for victims and ensure those responsible for crimes are held accountable. We’re hopeful this arrest will bring some level of closure to the victim’s surviving loved ones.”

Lefferts was arrested in Jacksonville, where he lived, and TPD detectives took him into custody with help from the Baker County Sheriff’s Office. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office also helped TPD investigate the case.

You can learn more about TPD’s Cold Case unit by following this link. The public can submit tips to the unit by calling 850-891-4462. To stay anonymous with your tip, call Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

Here are some links from our previous stories with more details:

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

- Man arrested in Tallahassee cold case murder linked to previous rape and murder

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