Thomas Garner

Thomas Lewis Garner was arrested on March 13, 2019 and charged in the August 5, 1984 rape and murder of 25-year-old Pamela Cahanes in Sandford, Florida. Cahanes had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled, and left in an overgrown lot. She was a Navy recruit, and a student at the Orlando Naval Training Center.

A DNA profile was obtained from semen found on her underwear, and from tissue taken from under her fingernails. The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs.

At a recent bond hearing, the defence admitted that there may have been sexual contact and that the semen might belong to Garner, but that it is not connected with her death. Garner himself has denied knowing Cahanes. They may have the Orlando Naval Training Center at the same time.

Garner took the stand in his own defence and stated that while he had sexual relations with Cahanes, he did not kill her. Garner was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury after less than two hours of deliberation in Seminole County on May 6, 2021. He was sentenced to life in prison.

On June 21, 2021, Garner was arrested for the September 19, 1982 murder of 25-year-old Kathy Warnette Hicks in Honolulu, Hawaii. After his arrest for Cahanes murder, his DNA was entered into CODIS and matched DNA taken from semen found in Hick’s body. Hicks was an airline employee who was on a company retreat at the Ilikai Hotel at the time she was killed. She was last seen in the elevator going to the hotel pool with a man named ‘Tommy’. Her body was found by joggers the next morning along Nuuanu Pali Drive. She had most likely been thrown there from the roadway, and rolled down the embankment. Like Cahanes, she had been strangled and sexually assaulted. Garner had been stationed in Hawaii at the time of the murder. He is currently charged with second degree murder for the death of Hicks.

Garner is currently facing charges of second degree murder for the death of Hicks in Honolulu Circuit Court.

Associated Press. “DNA Leads to Arrest 34 Years After Navy Recruit’s Slaying.” Navy Times, March 14, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020.

Brieskorn, Katlyn. “Man Found Guilty of 1984 Killing of Navy Recruit in Seminole County.” ABC 9 News WFTV, May 6, 2021. Accessed May 21, 2021.

Honolulu Police Department. “Kathy Hicks.” Honolulu Police Department, Cold Case (Website), n.d. Accessed June 30, 2021.

Levkulich, Jeff, and Sarah Wilson. “DNA From Suspect in Seminole County Cold Case Murder Possibly Linked to Another Cold Case in Hawaii.” WFTV 9 ABC News, April 29, 2021. Accessed June 30, 2021.

Luperon, Alberto. “A Man Who Was Just Convicted of Murdering a Navy Recruit Has Been Indicted in the Cold Case Murder of Another Woman.” Law & Crime, June 21, 2021. Accessed June 30, 2021.

Williams, Michael. “Bond Denied for Suspect in 1984 Slaying of Navy Recruit Pamela Cahanes.” Orlando Sentinel, July 12, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020.

Williams, Michael. “Man Reacts with Disbelief After DNA Links Him to Decades-Old Killing: ‘This is Almost Like the Twilight Zone’.” Orlando Sentinel, July 8, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020.


First Name Thomas
Last Name Garner
Other Names
Victims 2 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2021-06-21
IGG Org Parabon


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1494 Kathy Hicks 25 1982-09-19 Honolulu, HI Seminole CSO; NCIS Second degree murder Case is currently pending before the court Supreme Court
1177 Pamela Cahanes 25 1984-08-05 Sanford, FL Seminole CSO; NCIS Second degree murder Accused was convicted after a trial Seminole CO Justice Center

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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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.