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Author Topic: Man from Newburg is charged for murder in Florida in 1997  (Read 844 times)

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Man from Newburg is charged for murder in Florida in 1997
« on: January 11, 2013, 01:29:57 AM »


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   Man from Newburg is charged for murder in Florida in 1997

Harry Leach is accused of kidnapping and killing Pluma Sanford at her home in Fort Walton Beach.

  • 343
by Gene Hartley KY3 News 4:58 p.m. CST, January 10, 2013

ROLLA, Mo. -- A man from Newburg was charged this week with killing a woman in Florida 15 years ago. Investigators say DNA evidence led to charges of capital murder and kidnapping against Harry Leach, 52. Detectives believe Leach went to the murder victim's home as a repairman before the murder.
Someone killed Pluma Sanford, 73, at her home in Fort Walton Beach on Aug. 15, 1997. No one was charged until this week, and it happened because of advances in technology.
On Jan. 23, 2012, a Phelps County sheriff’s deputy arrested Leach after a domestic assault involving a weapon. That led to Leach being placed on probation.

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Last October, a DNA sample was taken from Leach to comply with a recently-passed Missouri law mandating DNA samples be submitted on everyone arrested for felonies. All DNA samples obtained by law enforcement agencies are entered into the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS).
CODIS is a national data base in which DNA samples are compared to verify identities, identify individuals who may have committed other crimes, identify unknown remains, among many other uses. Last Nov. 16, after Leach’s DNA profile was entered into CODIS, the system notified the Okaloosa County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department of a possible match.
Last Dec. 11, Okaloosa County detectives interviewed Leach in Phelps County and obtained a fresh DNA sample to present to their Crime Lab for comparison. Leach was kept in the Phelps County Jail at that time for a probation violation.
On Tuesday, Leach was served a fugitive arrest warrant by Phelps County detectives based on a Florida arrest warrant. Leach remains in the Phelps County Jail pending his extradition hearing or the posting of a $1 million bond. He refused to waive extradition, which could mean governors’ offices in both states will have to be involved to get him moved to Florida.
This is the fourth cold case homicide solved by Okaloosa County investigators since February 2011.

“I worked on this case as an investigator all those years ago,” said Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley in a news release. “It was heart-wrenching to see how this woman who had given so much was left in her home and was attacked, brutally attacked and assaulted.”

Sanford’s badly beaten body was discovered in the back bedroom of her home. The hospital and church volunteer suffered blunt force trauma to her face and head, as well as broken ribs. The cause of death was ruled as asphyxia, secondary to ligature strangulation, according to the news release.

Investigator Brad Embry was assigned the cold case in 2010 and began reviewing the evidence. He re-submitted several items to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab to try to obtain a more complete DNA profile. The profile was then submitted into CODIS.

When Leach’s DNA was matched to the DNA from the Sanford case, investigators confirmed the sample and then were able to place Leach at Sanford's home around the time of the murder. He worked for a company that repaired mobile homes.
A spokesman for the Phelps County Sheriff's Department said he doesn't know much about Leach, but says he's married with children living at his home in Newburg. He said Okaloosa County investigators believe Leach left Florida shortly after the murder and spent some time in Oklahoma before moving back to Missouri.
A spokeswoman for the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department says someone claiming to be Leach's wife posted on the department's Facebook page that the couple was married in 1995.
Online court records show Leach was in Missouri before the murder. He was charged in 1995 in Pulaski County, just west of Newburg, with forgery. He pleaded guilty in 1996 and received two years of probation. The court file for that case shows him living at the same address as he does now.

Over the next several years, a probation officer reported several times that Leach violated terms of his probation. One entry in 1996 said the officer told a judge that he was "having difficulty in supervising defendant's probation," possibly indicating Leach was not in the area.
In 1998, a prosecutor asked a Pulaski County judge to revoke Leach's probation. After a hearing, the judge extended Leach's probation by three years. In the next couple of years, more reports of probation violations followed and the judge revoked his probation in December 2001. Leach got a four-year prison sentence but the judge granted his release after 120 days of shock incarceration.
In January 2012, Leach was charged in Phelps County with domestic assault and endangering the welfare of a child. He pleaded guilty in September and received five years of probation in lieu of a seven-year prison sentence. It's this conviction that got his DNA entered into CODIS, leading to his charge for the murder of Sanford,4259470.story

I remember when this happened and I also remember him.
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