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Florida Keys murder cold case from 1991 solved, sheriff says

This picture of Wanda Deann Kirkum was taken in 1989, two years before her death , investigators say.
This picture of Wanda Deann Kirkum was taken in 1989, two years before her death , investigators say. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – It became known as the “Valentine Jane Doe Homicide” and was chronicled on “Unsolved Mysteries” and other shows.

Three decades later, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says it has cracked the cold case.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay announced Monday that the previously unknown young woman discovered on Feb. 15, 1991, in a wooded area off U.S. 1 near Mile Marker 35 has now been identified as Wanda Deann Kirkum, who was 18 and lived in Hornell, New York.

The Sheriff’s Office says that her killer has been identified as Robert Lynn Bradley, who was killed in a homicide in Texas in April 1992 at age 31.

The agency says that its major crimes unit detective Vince Weiner partnered with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and used new DNA technology to ID the victim and killer.

“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,” Ramsay said. “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.”

Investigators say that Kikhum was never officially reported missing to law enforcement. Both her parents are now deceased.

Robert Lynn Bradley was killed in April 1992 at age 31, a year after he allegedly murdered 18-year-old Wanda Deann Kirkum in the Florida Keys. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Bradley’s DNA was obtained from the 1991 crime scene in the Keys, the Sheriff’s Office says. That DNA was recently compared to DNA from the Tarrant County, Texas, scene where he was killed and determined to be a match. There’s evidence that suggests Bradley lived in Miami in late November 1990, investigators say.

The Sheriff’s Office says Kirkum was seen by witnesses hitchhiking out of Key West on Feb. 14, 1991. Her body was found by windsurfers the next morning 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 wearing only a bikini top, with which she had been strangled, investigators say. Forensic examination determined she had been beaten and sexually assaulted before being strangled to death.


About the Author:

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.