Fingerprint leads to break in 1983 Florida cold case murder of Carla Lowe

According to police, new fingerprint technology helped break into a cold case that involved a Florida young woman being killed.

Ralph Williams (59), was taken into custody Monday for the murder of Carla Lowe (21). Lowe was found brutally beat and ran over in front of a Delray Beach station on November 13, 1983. Police said this at a press conference Tuesday.

Williams, who had been considered a person of interest in Lowe’s slaying, was charged with first-degree murder with a weapon, Delray Beach police Chief Javaro Sims told reporters.

The arrest marks the first for the Delray Beach Police Department’s cold-case unit after it was created in January, Sims said.

“This is the exact reason why the cold-case position was initiated earlier this year,” the chief said. “To help bring some level of closure to the families who have lost any hope of justice for their losses.”

Carla Lowe
Carla Lowe’s body was found beaten and run over in 1983.
Delray Beach Police

Williams is believed to have shot Lowe in the stomach while Lowe waited for Amtrak’s train. According to officials from the department, Lowe died of blunt force trauma and they did not know one another.

Delray Beach Police Det. Todd Clancy stated that new technology from Foster + Freeman (a UK-based Forensic Science Company) allowed investigators the ability to extract a fingerprint using evidence at Williams’ original crime scene.

“It was the advances in technology,” Clancy said. “I can’t elaborate … but we weren’t able to get this fingerprint the old traditional way that crime scene would get fingerprints.”

Ralph Williams
After being an individual of interest for a while, Ralph Williams was taken into custody for murdering Carla Lowe. According to police, he didn’t know Carla Lowe before committing her murder and discovered her in waiting for Amtrak.
Delray Beach Police

Clancy said the unspecified “new process” was able to extract a fingerprint from the evidence, which he declined to further detail. Clancy said an investigation remains ongoing, and that a motive is not known.

CBS Miami reported that recovery machines are the name of the technology that helped crack this case. It’s now being eyed for use in other Delray Beach cold cases, Clancy said.

Williams was arrested on grand theft auto and burglary charges the day Lowe’s body was found, but investigators weren’t able to tie him to her murder, according to CBS Miami.

Detective Todd Clancy
The breakthroughs made in technology are the reason Detective Todd Clancy was able to solve the case.
Delray Beach Police

Some of Lowe’s relatives attended Tuesday’s press conference, but didn’t address reporters. They did however give a statement to police, praising the investigators for their continued diligence in this case that is nearly 40 years old.

“It means everything to me,” Lowe’s sister, Jackie Lowe-Repass, said of Williams’ arrest. “Thirty-eight years I’ve waited for this. He took a very beautiful person out of this world … There’s a name now to who did this to my sister.”

Lowe-Repass stated that she wants people to understand her sister, who was kind and generous.

Carla Lowe
Carla Lowe succumbed to blunt force trauma. Jackie Lowe Repass, her sister, said that she was an extremely beautiful woman.
Delray Beach Police

“She just wasn’t a piece of trash that someone threw her away,” Lowe-Repass’ statement continued.

Online records indicate that Williams of Jacksonville is still being held in lieu of bond for a Duval County first-degree murder case. It’s unclear if he’s hired an attorney.

Ralph Williams was arrested for grand theft auto and burglary the day Carla Lowe’s body was discovered but police were unable to tie him to the murder until now.
Delray Beach Police
Police Chief Javaro Sims
Police Chief Javaro Sims says the cold case unit was launched to bring a degree of closure to victim’s families.
Delray Beach Police

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