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.
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Williams, Michael. “Bond Denied for Suspect in 1984 Slaying of Navy Recruit Pamela Cahanes.” Orlando Sentinel, July 12, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-thomas-garner-arthurhearing-20190712-lanytqwoi5gillhbspi5ynlz2q-story.html.
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. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-thomas-garner-pamela-cahanes-discovery-release-20190708-sfq3ob4yzzfrvoctojjmyaamkq-story.html.