Man charged in connection to 36-year-old cold case murder in Florida using DNA

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Source: Michigan Department of Corrections, Unsplash

Aug. 22 2021, Published 10:50 a.m. ET

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After 36 years without answers, a man has been arrested for the 1985 murder of a 17-year-old college student.

And he was already in prison in another state.

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Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters announced during a press conference on Aug. 19 that a grand jury indicted David Nelson Austin on a charge of first-degree murder in connection to the stabbing death of Leslie McCray.

In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve in 1985, McCray was kidnapped at knifepoint from her home in Jacksonville, Florida, according to News 4.

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Police said a stranger entered her apartment and tied up McCray and her boyfriend. McCray was last seen being taken against her will.

When McCray’s boyfriend freed himself, he called police and a search began. Hours later, she was found dead on Old Middleburg Road, News 4 reported.

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In 2019, McCray’s family reached out to a Jacksonville-based group, "Project: Cold Case," and the JSO Cold Case Unit to request a reexamination of the evidence using new forensic technology, Waters said during the press conference.

Waters said DNA led investigators to Michigan, where Austin had been in prison since 1991, serving a life sentence for convictions in sexual assault cases there, according to News 4.

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A warrant was issued for Austin, charging him with second-degree murder before he was indicted for the first-degree murder charge, Waters said during the press conference.

Austin is also charged with two counts of armed kidnapping and one count of armed sexual battery, News 4 reported.

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