Benjamin Holmes

Benjamin L. Holmes was arrested on November 5, 2018 and charged in the 2001 murder of 25-year-old Christine Franke in Orlando, Florida. Franke was studying to become a teacher. She had been killed by an intruder in her home after returning from school on October 21, 2001. She had been raped, robbed, and shot in the head. She was found with her clothing partially removed.

A DNA profile was obtained from semen collected from her body. The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs. Investigators made the initial confirmation through surreptitious sampling.

Holmes has a previous criminal record, but the offences were not serious enough to require him to provide his DNA.

Over the course of the investigation, police took DNA samples from dozens of men connected to the case, all of whom were excluded.

This case directly raised the issue of how different family members of Holmes felt about the genealogical investigation. The mother of the accused, Eleanor Holmes, was quite upset by the arrest. She claimed that police had lied to her to get a sample of her DNA, telling her that they were trying to identify someone in her family who had died. This DNA test confirmed that the source of the crime scene DNA was one of Holmes’ two sons. Investigators first put her other son, Reginal, under surveillance and surreptitiously sampled a bottle of Gatorade he had drank from and thrown away. He was excluded as being a contributor to the semen found on Franke’s body. Police then turned to Benjamin, and surreptitiously sampled a cigar and a bottle of beer he had thrown away.

Several other relatives of Holmes were approached by investigators to obtain their DNA, perhaps as many as a dozen. In this case, the family tree was very large, and genealogists wanted to perform targeted kinship testing to narrow the investigation down to the correct branch of the family tree.

John Hogan was one of the relatives of Benjamin Holmes who assisted in the investigation. He had uploaded his DNA profile to GEDmatch as part of his research into his family history. Hogan, a more distant relative, stated that he is very pleased with the result, and is glad that his information could help apprehend a murderer and bring closure to Franke’s family.

This case has therefore raised ethical issues over how police conduct DNA sampling in cases of targeted kinship testing, and whether it is ethical for police to withhold information or mislead potential witnesses in order to induce them to provide their DNA samples.

Holmes had pled not guilty, and his case is pending in Orange County Circuit Court. During the opening statements of the trial in February of 2023, the defence stated that the DNA is that of Holmes, but that his semen was planted at the crime scene to protect the “real killer.”

Holmes was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury on February 7, 2023. He will receive an automatic life sentence.


DeForest, Mike. “Benjamin Holmes Found Guilty in 2001 Murder of UCF Student.” Click on Orlando, February 7, 2023. Accessed May 7, 2023.

DeForest, Mike. “‘One Person Left:’ Detective Says DNA Solved 2001 UCF Student’s Murder.” Click Orlando, February 3, 2023. Accessed February 4, 2023.

Perez, Nicole, and Andrea Torres. “Ancestry Customer Says he is Glad His DNA on GEDmatch Led to Unknown Cousin’s Arrest for Murder.” Local 10 News, August 14, 2019. Accessed December 23, 2020.

Schuppe, Jon. “‘They Lied to Us’: Mom Says Police Deceived Her to Get Her DNA and Charge Her Son with Murder.” NBC News, February 22, 2020. Accessed December 23, 2020.

Tziperman Lotan, Gal. “DNA Leads Detectives to Suspect in 17-Year-Old Orlando Murder.” The Ledger, November 6, 2018. Accessed December 23, 2020.


First Name Benjamin
Last Name Holmes
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2018-11-05
IGG Org Parabon


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1136 Christine Franke 25 2001-10-21 Orlando, FL Orlando PD Second degree murder Accused was convicted after a trial Orange CO CIR CT

Last updated: February 9, 2024

To contribute information on new or existing IGG cases, use this form.

Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.