Florida police announced Tuesday a break in a cold case stretching back nearly 20 years involving a 15-year-old girl who was found brutally murdered inside her own home, as new DNA technology pinned the stabbing on an inmate serving an unrelated life sentence.
Speaking at a press conference alongside the family of Farrah Carter, the Miramar Police Department announced a break in her 2002 cold case murder, as “the advancement of DNA technology and the diligence and hard work of detectives” led to the indictment of Joseph L. Pollard for first-degree murder. Carter “would have been celebrating her 35th birthday on Sept. 10, but instead the family is thankful to be one step closer to justice,” the department said in a statement.
The victim was just 15 years old when her mother and sister came home on May 22, 2002, to the house the family recently began renting in the 6500 block of Southwest 27th Street and found the teen dead from multiple stab wounds inside her own bedroom.
Police said there was no evidence of forced entry into the home, but pools of blood that covered the tile floors of the family room indicated a violent struggle between Farrah and her attacker, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
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It was unclear whether she knew Pollard, but a neighbor told police he saw a man speaking with the teen in the front doorway earlier that day – but he wasn’t allowed inside and left. Pollard was out on parole at the time Carter was killed.
“For the detectives to come through with this information,” Farrah’s mother, Kim Battle, said at the press conference on Tuesday. “It’s very pleasing, in a sense, but it’s very heartbreaking… There’s still a big hole in my heart that will never be filled. For many nights after this I would sit in the living room in a big chair hoping she would come through that door.”
“For 19 years,” Farrah’s father, Tony Carter, also said at the press conference through tears. “I haven’t been able to get my life together. Everything’s changed in my life. Right now is like the first day of the rest of my life. I’m hoping to get a new start on it. But I miss my baby so much.”
A man’s shoe print was seen on the tile floor in the teen’s blood. A jar was smashed, a chair was knocked over and the couch had been pushed across the room into a window and blinds. The bedspread in her mother’s bedroom was also soaked in blood. Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues described it as one of the “most horrific crime scenes our detectives have ever come across.”
“She was a daddy’s girl and I was a daddy’s girl growing up. We had that bond, that connection,” Jasmine Carter, who was just 10 when she found her sister murdered, said, according to WPLG. “I don’t know what a 15-year-old would do that you would kill her like that. It was a passionate crime.”
“You wouldn’t think that at 8 years old you could remember that much,” another sister, Keli Craig, said at Tuesday’s press conference. “But I remember that day as if it was yesterday.”
“Today is overwhelming for us,” she continued, “There’s really no closure, the only closure we would feel would be if my sister were to walk through that door and say, ‘Hey, y’all, I’m OK.”
DNA was recovered from the scene and entered into a national database but it would be years before a hit came for Pollard in 2019 amid new advancements in DNA technology. Investigators questioned Pollard twice in prison, and he denied involvement both times. But further DNA matches recovered from a pair of shoes and a doorframe provided enough evidence for an indictment, police said.
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Miramar Police detective Joe Tomlin said state prosecutors will continue to pursue the case against Pollard, who is already serving a life sentence at the Taylor Correctional Institution in Perry. He will be extradited next week by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Just two years after Carter was stabbed to death, Pollard was sentenced in the summer of 2004 to serve life in prison at the age of 39 in an unrelated case involving kidnapping, burglary and robbery. He is now 56. Pollard had a history of violence against women, and his criminal record, which stretched back decades, included possession of cocaine, vehicle theft and lewd and lascivious acts involving minors.