Benjamin Holmes sentenced to life in prison in 2001 murder of UCF student

DNA evidence led to conviction in fatal shooting of Christine Franke

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.Benjamin Holmes, the man found guilty for the murder of UCF student Christine Franke, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday.

The judge said Holmes, who in February was convicted of killing the 25-year-old, during a robbery at her Audubon Park apartment on Oct. 21, 2001, has the right to appeal the ruling within 30 days.

“I am not the man or the person who murdered Christine Franke,” Holmes said during the sentencing on Thursday. “It hurts... Unfortunately, I’m the man who was found guilty.”

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Christine Franke’s mother, Tina Franke, was surprised Holmes spoke out. She and her family were there for the sentencing and said they were glad justice was served.

“We’ve waited 22 years for this,” the victim’s mother said. “If someone’s accused wrong, I would never want that to happen but the evidence all just points to him. That DNA doesn’t lie.”

Holmes wasn’t arrested in connection with the fatal shooting until 2018, when a man who had never heard of Franke or the news surrounding her death submitted his DNA to a genealogy database, leading detectives to his potential relative, Holmes.

Investigators had uploaded Holmes’ genetic data using DNA extracted from semen found at the crime scene to GEDmatch, a free online database used by genealogists and amateur researchers to identify potential relatives.

They then learned that John Hogan, who had uploaded his genetic data, was a second cousin of Holmes.

A man who submitted his DNA to an ancestry site unknowingly helped Orlando police solve a cold case murder.

“When you told me that my DNA helped solve a 17-year cold case murder, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Hogan in a previous interview with News 6 after learning of his role in the homicide investigation when he was contacted by a News 6 reporter.

The defense has argued Holmes’ DNA was planted at the crime scene.

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About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.