Discarded beer cans help Florida authorities crack 1996 cold-case murder of convenience store clerk: Sheriff

orange county
Source: MEGA; Orange County jail

Nov. 4 2021, Published 3:43 p.m. ET

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Beer cans tossed in the trash may have solved the murder of a Florida man who was stabbed 73 times and died in a convenience store bathroom, police said.

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On Feb. 3, 1996, a passerby called Orange County sheriff deputies shortly before 7 a.m. after noticing the lights off at the Lil’ Champ mini-mart in Orlando.

Responding deputies noted there was a car in the parking lot as well as two armored car service employees waiting outside to pick up a deposit at the store that should have been opened by 6 a.m., WKMG-TV reported, citing an arrest affidavit.

Deputies traced the car to 31-year-old Terrence Paquette, but the clerk did not respond to calls to his home and nobody answered the mini-mart’s phone.

After an employee stopped by the store and unlocked the door to let deputies in, they discovered Paquette dead in the bathroom. According to the affidavit, the victim was stabbed 73 times, and the killer stole around $1,000 and keys to the shop, locking it up when leaving.

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Detectives were able to determine blood collected from the bathroom and throughout the store belonged to Paquette and an unknown person, but the case went cold.

In 2003, the investigation was reopened, but there wasn’t a break until last March when detectives submitted DNA recovered from the unknown person’s blood samples to a genealogy database.

According to an affidavit, the DNA was traced to 54-year-old Kenneth Stough Jr., who, deputies learned, lived in an apartment across the street from Paquette around the time he was murdered.

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Investigators then began surveilling Stough and collected empty 16 oz. Budweiser beer cans the suspect discarded in a dumpster. DNA recovered from the cans allegedly was a match with the blood samples.

Law enforcement arrested Stough on Nov. 2 and charged him with first-degree murder with a weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon.

“Just because we don’t make an arrest in a case in a day or in a few weeks or even a few months doesn’t mean we give up on our victims and their families,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.

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