Sarasota Police Solve 30 Year Old ColdCase Killing

SARASOTA (970 WFLA) -- Sarasota police say a man who's spent the last 29 years in prison is the one who murdered a 23 year old woman and left her body in a field near Booker High School in 1988. 

Judith Doherty's corpse was found in a field in July of that year. Her sister Karen Aron visited the gravesite of Doherty earlier this year and promised there would be justice while she still lived, not knowing that a break was just weeks away. 

Detective Anthony DeFrancisco has been working on the case since 2009. He says the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab used modern techniques to process DNA from the crime scene. They pointed the finger at 63 year old David Stephens. DeFrancisco got the inmate to provide a new sample.

"The DNA match was irrefutable... (and) corroborated by other crime scene evidence," DeFrancisco told reporters. DeFrancisco said Stephens "was not on the radar" until the DNA evidence surfaced. 

He served an arrest warrant on Stephens (pictured below), who's been serving a 70 year sentence at a state prison near Arcadia. Stephens was convicted in an unrelated 1989 rape and armed robbery case. 

Aron appeared at a news conference to thank Sarasota police for their work. "He never quit," Aron said of DeFrancisco. 

Photos: Sarasota Police Department, Florida Department of Corrections 

David L. Stephens


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