DNA leads to Michigan inmate being charged for Florida teen’s 1985 murder
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)— Investigators have matched DNA evidence from a 1985 kidnapping, sexual assault, and death of a 17-year-old Florida girl to an inmate who was already serving two life sentences in Michigan on sexual assault charges, according to officials.
David Nelson Austin, 59, has been charged with first-degree murder, armed kidnapping and sexual battery in the stabbing death of Leslie McCray, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Chief T.K. Waters announced in a news conference on Thursday.
McCray’s family has been waiting almost 36 years for a breakthrough in the case.
Cold case investigators interviewed Austin in April, leading to additional tests to confirm the DNA match.
Authorities said McCray was killed in her apartment on Christmas Eve in 1985.
Her boyfriend woke up in the middle of the night to a man kneeling on the bed and tying him up. The man then took McCray out the back door.
Her body was found three hours later several miles from the apartment in a ditch. She had been raped and stabbed multiple times, officials said.
The evidence was evaluated in April 2020 with newer technology, and detectives got a lead on a possible suspect, Waters said.
“A DNA profile was matched to an inmate in the Michigan corrections database,” Waters said.
Officials will attempt to have Austin returned to Jacksonville for trial. He is currently serving two life sentences for sexual offenses in 1988, the Michigan Department of Corrections said.
Assistant State Attorney Lauren Anderson said the sheriff’s office, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the McCray family and Project: Cold Case worked together to get results.
“They have never stopped pushing for this case to be investigated and they waited over 35 years for this day,” Anderson said. “Our pursuit for justice isn’t over yet. Cold cases are challenging, but they are not forgotten.”
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