DNA leads to arrest in Florida woman 1999 cold case murder

Mugshot (l) for Luke Fleming, 39, was on Wednesday arrested and accused of raping, beating and strangling Deborah Dalzell (r.) in her Sarasota home in March 1999.

(Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office )

A Florida man has been arrested in 1999 cold case murder of a 47-year-old woman who was raped, then strangled with a T-shirt.

Deborah Dalzell was brutally abused and gagged with a sock before they are sexually assaulted and strangled, according to court papers. Her body was found in her home in Sarasota, Florida, on March 29, 1999.

The researchers said that the killer was an intruder who broke into the house.

On Wednesday, Luke Fleming, 39, of St. Petersburg, was charged with the murder.

Fleming lived less than a mile from Dalzell at the time of the murder, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

“As a family we have dreamed of the day that we get the news that they have caught their killer,” Dalzell’s sister Peggy, Thorn, of Sarasota, said, according to the paper. “We now have a face and a name for this monster.”

Friday was Dalzell’s birthday.

“Happy birthday, Deborah,” Thistle said.

Fleming was linked to the crime through DNA, the paper reported.

The coroner recovered sperm when Dalzell’s body was autopsied.


The semen was compared with the Fleming’s DNA and this resulted in a match, according to the paper. The researchers obtained Fleming’s DNA by means of “researching”.

“His arrest will not happen overnight and it wasn’t easy tracking him down,” Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But thanks to DNA evidence, in combination with ancestry and genealogy, we have finally connected the dots that the researchers have worked for nearly two decades.”

Fleming was jailed in lieu of $ 1.2 million bail.

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