Some cases sit unsolved for a year. Some stay unsolved and forgotten for 10, or 20 years. When they’re not forgotten and are constantly brought into the light, it can bring about incredible revelations and new evidence. That’s why it's so important to talk about the cases that are seemingly forgotten. Bringing new eyes to them is the least, us as consumers of true crime media can do. When we do that, we better the chances of more cases being placed on a list like this. Here are three cold cases that were solved in 2018.
The Murder of Leslie Perlov
Leslie Perlov was 21-years-old and studying law at Stanford University in California when she went missing. She lived with her mother in Los Alto Hills and worked as a clerk at the North County Law Library in Palo Alto. The afternoon of February 13, 1973, would be the last time Leslie Perlov was seen alive by any of her friends.
She’d just left work and while it was unclear where she was headed, her car was found near a gate on Old Page Mill and Page Mill Road. She was nowhere to be found. Her mother claimed that Leslie would have called if she was going to be late getting home, but her close friends say otherwise. They believe she didn’t call because she was painting a picture of the nearby rock quarry for her mom as a surprise. Her mother reported her missing not long after the car was found.
Police began searching immediately but the case was off to a slow start. The search was extensive but her body wasn’t discovered until three days after she went missing. Her body had been left under an oak tree in an area locals referred to as The Dish. Upon discovery of the body, it was clear she’d been strangled to death and sexually assaulted. There was bruising around the entirety of her neck, her skirt had been lifted and her pantyhose were shoved into her mouth.
The autopsy went on to confirm the sexual assault and soon the police put out a national manhunt. While they didn’t have a name, they had a small description of someone who was seen talking to someone in Leslie’s car. He was described as a “young man with long, blonde hair” and was driving a gray car. With such a simple description the case soon went cold despite the efforts put forward. The case would sit unsolved for quite some time before a group of cold-case investigators took a new look at it.
In July of 2018, they came across a DNA sample that hadn’t been identified. The sample was sent off to Parabon NanoLab in Virginia where they ran it through a database. It came up with a possible match to a man named John Arthur Gertrude. A look through his history showed police that he did have quite a past. He had served some time in a Germany prison for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl in 1964. He was arrested in his home soon after this discovery and is being held without bail.
The DNA sample was a confirmed match on November 9, 2018 and he stood trial on November 26 where he was found guilty. A statement from Leslie's sister said, “I've been waiting for this call for 45 years, and now that it came, I'm just a bit stunned." She then added, “Not a day goes by that I don't think about Leslie in some way. She was my big sister, always looking out for me. She was, and remains always with me."
The Murder of John Blakely
On the night of November 16, 1986, John Blakely’s car was found burning in the woods near Idylwood Avenue in Polk County, Florida. He was nowhere to be found and anything that could have been left behind in the car was destroyed. Two weeks would pass until John was found. His body had been left under a bridge over Charlie Creek on County Line Road on November 30 with his hands bound behind his back.
Many told police James Mason was the last person seen with John, and while they did interview him, he wasn’t arrested. When interviewed he blamed his cousin, Milton McIntyre, and said that was the one the police should be investigating. Along with this, many others claimed to have overheard Milton talking about how he murdered John, but he could not be found during the investigation and so it went cold soon after.
It would sit untouched until 2015 when the case was opened again, and re-examined. It was going to be challenging as many of the original witnesses had passed away, including James Mason. Despite this, others were interviewed like a man who made a statement claiming Milton admitted to the murder in 1986 but never came forward because he had been threatened at gunpoint not to tell anyone. Milton’s ex-girlfriend also went on to claim in a new interview that Milton and James used her car the night of the murder.
Detectives decided it was time to speak with Milton given the new statements. When he was asked about what took place, he claimed he knew nothing about what took place that night. Despite this, he as caught in a lie when he said he’d lived in the Ft. Meade or Bowling Green Areas at the time of the murder. He also claimed to have been in prison at the time, but this was also confirmed to be a lie. With enough probable cause, the detectives could have had him arrested, however, he passed away before the evidence could be presented to the State Attorney's Office on April 9, 2018. Despite this, on May 2, 2018, the case was cleared as solved with the offenders recorded as deceased.
The Murder of Christine Franke
Christine Frank was studying education at the University of Central Florida back in 2001 and was working hard as a bartender to get by. The night of October 21, 2001, she was seen leaving the bar around 4 AM, after pulling a double shift. She was headed home, but that would be the last time she was seen alive by someone she knew. She made it home to her apartment, but was brutally murdered only moments later. Her body was discovered by her neighbor when Christine’s girlfriend asked them to check on her since she wasn’t answering calls.
Christine’s apartment door was wide open and the neighbor's boyfriend called the police to report the murder. Christine had been shot in the head. Police investigated immediately and while semen was found on her body, she was not raped. They took a sample for DNA, but found no matches when it was placed into the database. Three months would go by with no new leads and so the case was considered cold. No one knew of any enemies Christine could have had. Roy Filippucci said in 2002, “ She didn't have any enemies—at least none known. She was extremely well-liked. Didn't owe anybody anything."
In 2016 police in Orlando used a service known as DNA phenotyping to create a composite sketch of a possible suspect—a black man with dark eyes and hair with no freckles. Despite this, no new tips were given and again, the case was at a standstill, until May of 2018. An employee from Parabon Nanolabs emailed the detective explaining that he’d found three distant cousins of a suspect through GEDMatch. GEDMatch is a LakeWorth based database where individuals can upload DNA profiles and match with family members, some they may have never met before. It's similar to Ancestry or 23 & Me.
Through this, he began building a family tree going backward—all the way to a woman who was born in 1910 and lived to 1987 and was the mother of 10 children. It was the suspect's grandmother. From there they began eliminating suspects who were too old, female, and who didn’t fit the profile. They eventually worked it down to Benjamin Holmes and his brother as the main suspects. An undercover officer went to a construction site where they were working and offered them both a Gatorade. Holmes’ brother took it an eventually threw it into the garbage. Police would later retrieve it and collect his DNA.
Holmes’ DNA was recovered from a Bud Ice beer can as well as some cigars found discarded by his friend’s home where he was staying after his wife and him split. While the DNA matched, Holmes was brought in later to further determine if they’d identified the correct person. Holmes was finally arrested in November of 2018 and is currently facing first-degree murder 17 years after he took Christine’s life. Christine’s mother described the moment as bittersweet.
John Blakely’s Case
Christine Franke’s Case