DAYTONA BEACH SHORES — A 24-year-old murder case that left a restaurant server beaten to death has been solved by DNA leading investigators to a killer serving time in prison for a separate murder, police said Thursday.

“It’s been quite a day for the city of Daytona Beach Shores. I am still in shock,” said Public Safety Director Stephan Dembinsky. “Advances in technology has made it possible for a specimen to be analyzed and a DNA match was obtained.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab technicians analyzed a minuscule sample of semen found on Kimberly Palmer, who was 26 years old when she was beaten to death in her home at 3110 S. Atlantic Ave., Dembinsky said.

Palmer was found murdered on Oct. 23, 1989.

The suspect identified about four weeks ago is Robert “Brian” Alford, now 42, serving time at Blackwater River Correctional Institution in Milton for killing a man in Fort Pierce three months after killing Palmer, Dembinsky said.

Alford was 18 years old when he is suspected of murdering Palmer, Dembinsky said. He is charged with second-degree murder, but the case is still under investigation.


Palmer’s cold case was reopened at the beginning of the year by Sgt. Mike Fowler and investigators started working it after getting a call from a person who knew the original suspect in the case giving them leads on Alford.

“Our police department has never forgotten her (Palmer) and we never stopped looking for her killer,” Dembinsky said.

Palmer’s homicide case is one of four unsolved murder cases in the city of about 4,000 people on the banks of the Halifax River and Atlantic Ocean.

“Now we only have three unsolved ones,” Dembinsky said.

The three other homicide cases that remain unsolved in Daytona Beach Shores date to as early as 1968 and as recent as 2007.

On July 22, 2007, Karen Lynn Boehm, 45, was shot to death in the parking lot of 2055 S. Atlantic Ave. by an unknown male subject. The motive for her shooting is unknown, said investigator Kelly Register.


The other unsolved murder occurred Sept. 11, 1974. This involved Melvin J Sands, 48, found murdered in his vehicle on the beach in the 3300 Block of Atlantic Avenue. Sands died from shock that set in, a result of cuts to the head after being hit with a wine bottle and left to die.

The oldest cold case in the Shores is from July 31, 1968. Jonathan Haynes, 21, of Tennessee, was shot three times execution style in the back of the head. Haynes was working at the time as a night auditor for Treasure Island, a South Atlantic Avenue hotel. It appeared at the time that robbery was the motive, Register said.

On Thursday investigators declined to say what connection existed between Palmer and Alford but said that they were not dating.

Palmer was a server at the Chart House in Daytona Beach and also worked part time at Denny’s, investigators said. She had only been in Daytona Beach Shores three weeks when she was killed.

“She was a local girl. Everybody liked her,” Dembinsky said.

A letter written to the News-Journal in 2000 by Nancy Freeman of Edgewater said Palmer was the adopted daughter of Laura and the late Frank Palmer. Palmer was Korean by birth and moved with her parents to Edgewater from Maine, Freeman wrote in her letter.


Alford was known to be a juvenile who was always in trouble, said Daytona Beach Shores investigator Greg Howard.

Alford was known to have been working on a fishing boat and was last known to have attended Silver Sands Middle School before he disappeared from the area, Fowler said.

Howard said Alford had several previous arrests before Palmer’s death including a case where he tortured a Future Farmers of America animal belonging to the school.

Alford’s father, Dempsey Alford, still lives in Port Orange and he refused to answer questions when reached at his Golden Gate Circle home Thursday morning.

“Leave my yard,” Dempsey Alford yelled at reporters.

He said he didn’t know anything about his son’s case but investigators said Dempsey Alford produced clippings of the homicide when investigators talked with him.


In closing the press conference, Dembinsky reassured everyone that Daytona Beach Shores continues to be a safe city and that anyone who commits a crime here will be found.

Palmer’s case is a prime example, where investigators preserved evidence until it could be used. The agency had to move after the old structure housing officers was torn down. But even as a new building was erected and everything had to be moved, evidence in Palmer’s case was well protected until it could be used. Investigators are looking into the possibilities on whether Alford had other victims, Dembinsky said.

“This does not happen every day,” Dembinsky said. “This is truly an amazing case.”

Laura Palmer, who lives in Maine, was also relieved to learn that her daughter’s killer was found, said Daytona Beach Shores Detective Sgt. Francis Moore.

“She was relieved to know that the suspect was not out on a free ride and that he had been in jail shortly after Ms. Palmer’s death,” Moore said.

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