On the morning of Feb 3, 1996, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Office discovered the body of Terry Paquette in the bathroom of the Lil' Champ Convenience Store in northwest Orange County, suffering more than 70 stab wounds. The case remained unsolved for nearly 25 years; today, a verdict has been reached.
According to a video shared by the Orange County Sheriff's Office on Facebook on August 25, Kenneth Stough was arrested in connection with the murder in November of 2021 and was linked to the case using genetic genealogy, which uses DNA testing and traditional genealogical methods to identify individuals.
This is the first homicide case in Orange County to use genetic genealogy to solve its mysteries.
The case was taken on by Brian Savelli in 2019, where he began to reexamine the details.
"I was just thinking, if somebody was stabbed 73 times, there has got to be additional DNA that was not the victim's and potentially the suspect's." Savelli recounted.
Initial investigations in 1996 revealed droplets of blood in different areas of the convenience store, which today is a QuikStop. Using a DNA sample from a bloodstain on the freezer handle, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement deteremined that the blood came from one of three brothers.
"Once we were able to identify potential persons of interest, we then looked into their life and where they were in '96." said Savelli.
Savelli zeroed in on Kenneth Stough, who had previously worked at the convenience store and lived at an apartment across the street from the victim in 1996.
But in order to link Stough to the crime scene, investigators needed a sample of his DNA. A GPS tracker led Savelli to a gas station in Lake County, where he watched Stough throw away several beer cans. The cans were later swabbed for DNA and matched the DNA of that at the crime scene, the video states.
Stough was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. All of Terry's family has since passed away; however, several of his friends were notified that an arrest was made in his case.
"Although people may think they're forgotten about, they're really not. Just because there's not an arrest made in a year or two, three, four, five years, that the case is still open, and we are doing everything we can to get every cold case out there solved." Savelli concluded.
According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Stough has officially been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison as of August 25, 2023.
Article by Rachael Volpe