Longtime cold case solved with DNA in Fernandina Beach

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- He almost got away with murder. In fact James Lee Hall, Jr. did get away with murder for the better part of three decades.

It's a case detectives say 'fell through the cracks,' but technology and forensic science finally solved the case 28 years later.

It all began in the small shrimping town of Fernandina Beach on the corner of 10th and Hickory street.

On May 15th, 1987, Janet Robinson was found assaulted, beaten, and strangled to death.

Investigators initially identified Hall as a suspect.

"The original officer, Lieutenant Davis was on the right track," Captain Jim Coe said.

The complicated case eventually led away from Hall and he reportedly moved to Colorado. Then the case went cold.

In 1995, Captain Coe took over the case. With a DNA sample that police called 'the only significant evidence left at scene' Coe began to study statements Hall gave to police in 1987.

"In my heart, I knew this was the man," Coe said.

The hunt for Hall was on. Detectives learned he'd died of natural causes and was buried in Denver's Fort Logan National Cemetery. His body was exhumed and compared to the DNA left on the victim's body, it was a match.

"Without his DNA he would've literally gotten away with murder," Coe stated.

Coe sent a message to the Victim's family, "I'm sorry it took this long."

Coe says Hall committed crimes in Kansas and Colorado.

His DNA will be entered into a database to see if he was involved in any other crimes.


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