For nearly three decades, federal officials were stumped about who killed a 4-year-old girl and her mom in Gary, Indiana. DNA testing helped change that last week.
Victor Lofton was arrested by federal officials in Tennessee and charged with two counts of murder in connection to DenNisha Howard and her 21-year-old mother, Felicia Howard. The duo was found shot in their apartment on Jackson Street in 1992. Gary, Indiana, is in the northwest part of the state near Chicago.
The case went cold after their deaths and police did not make any arrests for almost 30 years. But, in 2019, members of the FBI's Gang Response Investigative Team started to re-investigate the case.
The 57-year-old suspect was arrested in Tennessee last week and is in the process of returning to Indiana to face charges. The FBI announced Lofton's arrest on Monday.
The victims were dead for a couple of days when a prospective tenant looking at the apartment found their remains, according to The Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana. Howard was in the process of being evicted at the time of her murder.
Lofton-who was born in East Chicago, Indiana then moved to Tennessee-was identified as a suspect and spoke to investigators in September 2020, according to federal officials. He denied knowing either victim or being near the apartment when the murder happened.
Investigators used DNA testing and interviewed witnesses to help identify Lofton as the suspected killer, according to the FBI.
"This case should serve as notice to those committing violent crimes in Northwest Indiana that the tireless investigators of the FBI's GRIT Task Force will never rest to ensure justice for those who have been victimized, even if it's 29 years later,” said FBI Indianapolis GRIT Task Force Supervisory Special Agent Michael Peasley in a news release.
Several local and federal agencies helped in the arrest. Lofton's case is the 9th cold case the GRIT team has solved since 2018. federal officials noted.