SARASOTA, Fla. -- The original detectives were on hand Tuesday morning when Sarasota police announced they had finally solved a 30-year-old cold case.
On July 31, 1988, a jogger found the body of Judith Elaine Doherty in a field near Booker High School. Police said she has been beaten, sexually battered and strangled to death. She was 23 years old. Doherty's sister was also at the news conference and described her as a free spirit, gentle, kind and loved to be with her family.
On Tuesday, police issued an arrest warrant for 62-year-old David L. Stephens on charges of homicide and sexual battery.
Stephens is currently in the DeSoto Correctional Institution in Arcadia on charges of armed sexual battery and burglary for a case that happened a year after Doherty's death. He was scheduled to be released in 2021.
A new investigator in the case, Anthony Difrancisco, said he sent crime scene evidence to FDLE labs in 2009 and male DNA was found. A match was found when it was entered into the database. Police said Stephens used to live across the street from Booker High School, but during the initial investigation, he wasn't even on their radar.
Investigators said it was DNA technology that didn't exist in the 1980s that solved the crime after three decades.
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