Advances in DNA technology, meticulous evidence collection and the relentless work of investigators were credited Thursday with linking a 24-year-old homicide in Volusia County to a convicted killer.
Florida inmate Robert Alford, who is serving a 65-year sentence for a second-degree murder in Fort Pierce, killed waitress Kimberly Ann Palmer in her Daytona Beach Shores apartment when he was 18, officials alleged Thursday.
Alford, now 42, is being held at the Blackwater River Correctional Facility near Pensacola.
“He will now be returned to Volusia County, where he will be charged with Kim Palmer’s murder,” Stephan L. Dembinsky, director of public safety for Daytona Beach Shores, said in a statement Thursday.
Alford beat Palmer to death on Oct. 23, 1989, Dembinsky said. Her body was found the next day.
Three months later, Alford killed someone in Fort Pierce. He was sentenced in that slaying in 1991.
Dembinsky said the police department never forgot Palmer, who worked at the Chart House in Daytona Beach, and never stopped looking for her killer.
He said the commander of his investigative division traveled to Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday to tell her mother about the arrest.
She “never stopped thinking about her deceased daughter, and wondering if her killer would ever be caught,” he said.
“Thanks to good evidence collection, proper preservation of that same evidence, and advances to DNA technology, we obtained a positive identification of the killer,” Dembinsky added.
Authorities are not revealing details about a motive at this time. Alford and Palmer were acquaintances and knew each other through a “third party,” Investigative analyst Kelley Register said in an email.
His arrest warrant will remain sealed until he is extradited to Volusia.
Palmer was found lying face down on the living room floor of her one-bedroom apartment on South Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach Shores.
Friends from Chart House went to her apartment, worried because she didn’t show up for work, and found her body.
She had been there for about 12 hours before they found her.
Friends told police Palmer was drunk when they dropped her off at her home early Oct. 23, 1989.
Friends said they took her back to her apartment, left her asleep on her living room couch, and then left, leaving the front door unlocked because they didn’t have the key to lock it from the outside.
Palmer worked at Chart House for three years before she was killed and did the restaurant’s payroll as well as waited tables.
Dembinsky praised the work of Detective Greg Howard and Register and said “without these two, this case would still be unsolved. They worked tirelessly for the past year to get to the point where we are today.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services