A decades-old murder with the has been solved with the help of new DNA technology, said Sheriff Rick Ramsay, whose office worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on the cold case.
The body of an unidentified female victim was discovered on Feb. 15, 1991, in a wooded area off U.S. 1 near Mile Marker 35. The case became known as the “Valentine Jane Doe Homicide.” It drew national media attention, particularly on true crime television shows such as “Unsolved Mysteries.” Sheriff’s detectives, as well as other law enforcement agencies, investigated countless leads, yet the case remained unsolved for 29 years — until now.
The previously unknown female has been identified as 18-year-old Wanda Deann Kirkum of Hornell, New York. It was determined after a national database search that Kirkum was never officially reported missing to law enforcement. Both her parents are now deceased.
Her killer has been identified as Robert Lynn Bradley, who himself was murdered in Tarrant County, Texas, in April 1992, at the age of 31.
Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit Detective Vince Weiner and the FDLE partnered using advanced DNA technology, which helped identify the victim as well as the suspect.
Bradley’s DNA was obtained from the 1991 crime scene in the Florida Keys. That DNA, as well as DNA from his own homicide scene, were recently compared at the FDLE crime lab and determined to be a match. The Texas investigation offered evidence that suggested Bradley lived in Miami, Florida, in late November 1990.
Kirkum was seen hitchhiking out of Key West on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1991. Witnesses recalled seeing her northbound on U.S. 1 at MM10 on Big Coppitt Key and again at MM15. Kirkum was last seen at MM17 still hitchhiking at about 6:30 p.m.
Her body was found by windsurfers the following day at about 8:15 a.m., off a dirt road that leads to an area known to locals as the “Horseshoe,” east of Big Pine Key and west of Bahia Honda Key.
Kirkum was face down and nude, with the exception of her bikini top, with which she had been strangled. Her other clothes were found nearby. Forensic examination determined she had been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled to death.
Numerous law enforcement officers and experts from partner agencies have participated in this homicide investigation over decades. Countless investigative hours have been poured into trying to solve this crime. The sheriff’s office maintains more than 4,000 pages of investigative documentation. Now, with the victim and suspect identities known, the sheriff’s office is formally considering the “Valentine Jane Doe Homicide” resolved and closed.
“I would like to personally thank Major Crimes Unit Detective Vince Weiner and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their efforts in solving this very serious and tragic crime,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “This case is a testament and shining example of this agency’s commitment to solving crime, no matter how old the case and no matter the challenges.”