Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Daniel Leonard Wells (57), linked by DNA to 1985 murder, was found dead in cell a month after he was arrested

  1. #1
    It was aliens raisedbywolves's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    14,490
    Rep Power
    21474858

    Daniel Leonard Wells (57), linked by DNA to 1985 murder, was found dead in cell a month after he was arrested

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...hanks-n1164051

    DNA evidence lifted from a discarded cigarette led Florida police to the man they believe killed a young mother 35 years ago, authorities said Thursday.

    Tonya Ethridge McKinley, then 23, had just left a New Year's Eve celebration before she was strangled and sexually assaulted in Pensacola, allegedly by Daniel Leonard Wells, now 57, according to police.

    ?I didn't really know if this (arrest) would ever happen," the victim's relieved sister, Renee McCall, a 62-year-old nurse, told NBC News on Thursday. "I didn't really think this would happen in my lifetime, not after 35 years."

    Detectives said they spoke to dozens of friends and other revelers at Darryl?s Bar & Grille, not far from where McKinley was found on Jan. 1, 1985. But for most of this time, they had no suspect in the killing of McKinley, who was survived by an 18-month-old son.

    "Despite having a good bit of physical evidence and dozens of interviews, over time, the trail went cold," according to a police statement on Thursday. "It seems that every couple of years a new lead would pop up and we would drop everything to run it down. We did this time and time again. In the meantime, a baby boy grew up without a mother, parents buried their daughter without knowing justice, and a killer was walking around free. "

    But DNA in a public database eventually linked McKinley's killer to Wells' family and then to him, police said.

    Investigators were secretly following Wells on March 4 when the suspect tossed a cigarette out of his car, according to a police arrest warrant.

    Police "immediately stopped and recovered the cigarette butt," which had DNA matching semen taken off the victim's body, according to the warrant.
    Wells' DNA is being offered to other nearby law enforcement with unsolved sex crimes, because he's lived locally this whole time, Pensacola police spokesman Mike Wood said.

    "The reasons why this happened, how evil crossed Tonya?s path, may never be answered and in the end may not be important," according to police. "What is important is that no one forgot Tonya. "

    Wells was booked into the Escambia County Jail on Wednesday and held without bail. He's been charged with murder and sexual battery.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    GA girl living in NY
    Posts
    1,466
    Rep Power
    7527231

    Florida man (Daniel Leonard Wells, 57) linked by DNA to 1985 murder found dead in cell

    https://www.clickorlando.com/news/fl...-dead-in-cell/

    PENSACOLA, Fla. ? A man who was arrested last month in a 35-year-old Florida Panhandle slaying has been found dead in jail from an apparent suicide, authorities said.

    Daniel Leonard Wells, 57, was found hanged in his cell at the Escambia County Jail early Thursday morning, according to the sheriff?s office. His first hearing to face charges of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual battery had been scheduled for April 8, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

    Pensacola detectives arrested Wells on March 18 and charged him with the slaying of Tonya McKinley, 23, whose body was found before dawn on New Year?s Day 1985.

    She had been strangled and sexually assaulted, officials said. She had last been seen at a Pensacola bar shortly after the start of the new year. No suspects had been publicly named.

    Wells was recently identified after a Virginia-based company working with the Pensacola Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ran a DNA sample from the crime scene through an open-source genealogy database and identified several distant cousins of the suspect.

    A family tree was constructed that eventually led investigators to Wells.

    Last edited by up2trouble; 04-06-2020 at 01:27 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    GA girl living in NY
    Posts
    1,466
    Rep Power
    7527231
    Florida man arrested in 1985 killing of young mother after DNA found on cigarette

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tonya-m...und-cigarette/

    A Florida police department says it solved a 35-year-old homicide by using DNA to find a relative of the alleged killer and then created a family tree to track him down. Pensacola detectives arrested 57-year-old Daniel Wells on Wednesday and charged him with the slaying of Tonya McKinley, 23, whose body was found before dawn on New Year's Day 1985.

    She had been strangled and sexually assaulted, according to the Pensacola News Journal. She left behind an 18-month-old son.

    "This was a case that spanned three generations of detectives," said Pensacola police Capt. Chuck Mallett, who led the investigation. "I know it took a long time, but it was one of those cases we never gave up on."

    McKinley had last been seen at a Pensacola bar at about 1:30 a.m. New Year's Day. Her partially nude body was found four hours later in an empty lot by a family taking their dog to the emergency vet. No suspects had been publicly identified since and police found no DNA matches.

    "Despite having a good bit of physical evidence and dozens of interviews, over time, the trail went cold," police said in a Facebook statement. "It seems that every couple of years a new lead would pop up and we would drop everything to run it down. We did this time and time again. In the meantime, a baby boy grew up without a mother, parents buried their daughter without knowing justice, and a killer was walking around free. "

    But over the last two years, police departments have begun running profiles of DNA left behind at old murders and sexual assaults against online databases where genealogy hobbyists and others post their DNA profiles in hopes of finding long-lost relatives. When detectives find DNA that suggests someone is related to the killer or rapist, they make a family tree of that person looking for male relatives who lived near where the attack took place.

    If they find a possible hit, detectives surreptitiously follow the suspect until he discards a coffee cup, piece of gum or something else that would have his DNA. They recover and test the item, hoping for a match.

    Police say that's what happened here - DNA recovered from a cigarette butt Wells discarded matched McKinley's killer. He is being held at the Escambia County Jail without bond, charged with murder and sexual battery. Court records do not list an attorney representing him. The News Journal said Wells had two arrests within three years of McKinley's death: one for battery and the other for soliciting a prostitute. He pleaded no contest to the battery charge.

    McKinley's son, Timothy Davidson Jr., is now in his mid-30s. He told the News Journal he was happy to learn of the arrest.

    "My mom, she never got to raise me, never got to be a part of my life," Davidson said. "(Wells) got to live his life the last 35 years. He got to have a family. He got to be around his children ... and all those years he was out there, knowing what he did. He was carrying it around with him and he was never going to tell anyone what he did. He wasn't going to ever just say what he did on his own.

    "Nothing could ever make up for losing my mom, but at least now we know what happened to her."

    Last edited by up2trouble; 04-06-2020 at 01:13 PM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •