Arrest made in 1986 rape, murder of woman in Winter Park

DNA evidence leads to arrest 33 years later

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County deputies on Thursday announced an arrest in the rape and murder of a woman in Winter Park in July 1986.

The case had gone cold until recently when investigators resubmitted DNA evidence collected from the apartment where Eveline Aguilar was stabbed to death and got a match to Danny Lynn Emitt, 50, according to Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma.

Deputies said up until they got the DNA match, Emitt had not been a suspect in the case and they didn't know he was even in the area at the time of the homicide.

Aguilar was 38 when she was found dead in her bed suffering from multiple stab wounds, including to her neck and torso.

"This was a brutal homicide. I mean, it was very tough to look at these photographs again," Lemma said.

Witnesses said Aguilar started her day the morning of July 13, 1986, by reading a book on her front porch, made some calls, showed some furniture she was trying to sell so she could move back to New York, had dinner, watched a movie with a friend then went to the pool at her apartment complex, where she stayed until about midnight or 1 a.m.

Deputies said that was the last time she was seen alive.

A neighbor reported seeing the light in her apartment go off around 3 a.m. and also noted seeing her door slightly ajar. A friend found her around 6 a.m. on July 14, 1986. 

Lemma said that Emitt, who was about to turn 18 years old, broke in through a window sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. and committed the murder.

His semen was found at the scene and his palm prints were found on the windowsill, according to authorities. It's unclear what connection Emitt had to Aguilar, if any.

In the past 33 years, Emitt has been arrested dozens of times on charges of DUI, selling cocaine, possession of marijuana and burglary, among others.

"We know that he's been arrested more than 30 times in his 50 years on Earth. Hopefully we put an end to that right now and he never walks free again," Lemma said.

He was working as a dishwasher and bus boy in Knoxville, Tennessee when officers there took him into custody Wednesday.

Lemma said detectives are continuing to reexamine cold cases in hopes of making arrests now that technology has evolved. He said he hopes the arrest brings closure to Aguilar's family.

"It's bittersweet. In some senses, you want to celebrate the success of finding some closure but the harsh reality is there is no happy ending here. The harsh reality is that this was someone's life that was senselessly taken," Lemma said.

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