ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) — A discarded beer can helped solve an Orange County cold case murder that happened 25 years ago.
Kenneth Stough Jr is facing charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon in the stabbing death of Terrence Paquette in 1996.
On Feb. 3, 1996, deputies responded to the Lil’Champ convenience store on Clarcona Ocoee Road.
A witness called deputies after he drove by and noticed the lights in the store were off, something he said was odd because it was typically open when he passed by.
According to the arrest report, the witness said he turned around and parked at the store to look through the windows before trying to get inside. He told authorities he did not see a store clerk and continued on his morning drive before calling deputies.
When deputies arrived, they spotted two men who were at the store to pick up a cash deposit, but the door was locked.
According to authorities, they noticed there was a small amount of blood on the outside lock.
Investigators discovered a white car in the parking lot belonged to store manager Terrence Paquette. When they tried to call Paquette at his home, they did not get a response.
Another store employee who closed the previous night stopped at the store while deputies were on scene and gave the deputies keys to the business.
When they entered, deputies said they found Paquette in the store’s bathroom dead with multiple stab wounds. The medical examiner at the time determined that Paquette had been stabbed 73 times.
Deputies determined through bloodstains that whoever stabbed Paquette had also been injured. Authorities say blood samples from multiple areas within the store were sent to a crime lab. It was determined all came from the same previously unknown person.
In 1997, the case was closed without identifying who stabbed Paquette and documented it as “pending further investigative leads.”
In 2003, the case was re-opened and an analyst uploaded the DNA from a freezer door handle to a system. No matches were found.
In 2019, another deputy took over the case and continued attempts to identify the blood left behind throughout the store believed to belong to the suspect.
In March of 2021, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent a sample to an outside lab to use for forensic genetic genealogy.
A genealogist determined that the samples were a distant match to a couple who had three children, including Kenneth Robert Stough Jr.
The report said Stough, 28 at the time, and Paquette had lived nearby one and other.
Deputies said, with a judge’s order, they started to watch Stough using a GPS on his car in August. Detective Brian Savelli said he watched as Stough tossed a bag containing beer cans into a dumpster. The detective collected the bag and took them to Orange County’s Crime Scene Unit for inventory.
Analysts determined DNA on one of the cans matched the blood on the beverage handle door from 1996.
With the new evidence, authorities arrested Stough on Nov. 2. A judge ordered him held without bond.