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'They Lied to Us': Mom Says Cops Got Her DNA Sample, Charged Son With Murder

dna  pipette over a paper copy of genetic results
A DNA sample is pipetted into a Petri dish over genetic results. | usage worldwide Photo by: Klaus Ohlenschläger/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Monday, 24 February 2020 09:43 PM EST

A Georgia woman says police lied to her to obtain a DNA sample in order to charge her son with a cold-case killing from 2001, NBC reports.

Orlando, Fla., detectives admit they used subterfuge when they told family members of 39-year-old Benjamin Holmes Jr. why they wanted to collect their DNA. The method is legal.

Holmes is charged in the killing of 25-year-old Christine Franke, who was found dead in her Orlando apartment in October 2001. The case languished for years unsolved until technology finally caught up.

Semen was found on Franke's body, but though it was entered into a nationwide database at the time, no match was ever found. Now, however, crimes are beginning to be solved though the DNA of family members who submit it through genealogy sites.

Orlando police decided to try something similar, contracting through a private firm. They were able to narrow their search and tracked down several of the suspect's relatives, all of whom they approached, claiming to be searching for relatives of a woman found dead in Florida years earlier.

After taking samples from other relatives, they eventually ended up at the Valdosta, Ga., home of Eleanor Holmes. She had already heard about the other relatives participating and thought the detectives might be referring to a niece who had disappeared years earlier.

A few days later, she got a phone call from her son's girlfriend, saying he had been arrested and charged with murder. The evidence had been based on family members' DNA.

"When they arrested him, I knew they were lying," Holmes told NBC. "They lied to us."

Investigators said when their trail reached Valdosta, they knew the killer was one of Holmes' two sons. Both lived in Orlando.

An undercover officer gave a bottle of Gatorade to one, and when it was recovered and tested, he was ruled out. They then focused on the other son, Benjamin Holmes Jr. A discarded beer can and cigar turned up a positive match, and he was arrested and charged.

Some of the family members said they would have provided DNA samples had they been told the truth. Others said they would not.

Eleanor Holmes and her son both maintain he is innocent and don't know how his DNA ended up at the crime scene.

Tina Franke, the victim's mother, said she understands how Eleanor Holmes feels, but in the end has no problem with police lying to obtain the evidence needed to solve her daughter's murder.

"If they can imagine their own daughter being murdered and 17 years have gone by and they still don’t know who did it and they have DNA and no one to attach it to," Franke said. 'I think they’d want them to do what it took to find out who did it."

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A Georgia woman says police lied to her to obtain a DNA sample in order to charge her son with a cold-case killing from 2001, NBC reports...
dna, murder, police, lied
Monday, 24 February 2020 09:43 PM
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