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Tallahassee Police make arrest in 25-year-old cold case

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 12:00:44-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — On Tuesday, May 31, the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) arrested a suspect for first-degree murder in connection to a homicide that occurred more than two decades ago.

On July 2, 1996, an adult male was found deceased in a room at the Prince Murat Motel, located at 745 North Monroe Street. Based on evidence found at the scene and the completion of a full autopsy, the death was ruled a homicide, and the deceased male was later identified as James Branner.

In 2020, TPD detectives reopened the case, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) prepared samples from the DNA originally found at the crime scene for further processing using new forensic technology. Through FDLE's partnership with Parabon NanoLabs and the FDLE genetic genealogy team, an investigative lead was developed in 2021 that pointed detectives toward Alan Lefferts as the suspect.

Following a thorough investigation, detectives found probable cause to now arrest Lefferts for killing the victim during a physical altercation inside a motel room at the Prince Murat Motel on July 2, 1996.

"Solving a case that occurred nearly 26 years ago speaks volumes to the dedication and great collaborative effort between our state and local law enforcement partners," TPD Deputy Chief Jason Laursen said. "Our detectives and forensic specialists work tirelessly every day to seek justice for victims and ensure those responsible for crimes are held accountable. We're hopeful this arrest will bring some level of closure to the victim's surviving loved ones."

TPD detectives traveled to the Jacksonville area where Lefferts was residing and took him into custody with assistance from the Baker County Sheriff's Office. TPD was also assisted in the investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Learn more about TPD's Cold Case Unit and to view unsolved cases [talgov.com]. Citizens can submit tips for these cases by calling TPD's Cold Case Unit at 850-891-4462. You can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

Arrested:

Alan Lefferts, 71, for first-degree murder.