DNA links man to killings of Indiana woman, girl

By The Associated Press

CROWN POINT — A Tennessee man charged in the July 1992 killings of an Indiana woman and her 4-year-old daughter was linked to the deaths by a new analysis of DNA collected from the mother's body, court records show.

Victor Lofton, 56, of Humboldt, Tennessee, was charged on Feb. 2 with two counts of murder in the fatal shootings of Felicia Howard, 21, and her daughter, DenNisha Howard, in their apartment in Gary.

The killings shocked residents in the northwest Indiana city. Howard was found nude and shot in the chest, lying partially on a mattress as she reached for her daughter who had been shot in the head, according to court records.

A Lake County magistrate entered not guilty pleas to the murder charges on Lofton’s behalf Wednesday during his initial hearing, and appointed a public defender for him. The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from that attorney Thursday at the county's public defender's office.

According to court records unsealed Wednesday, the FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team, or GRIT, secured the charges against Lofton after reopening the case in early 2019.

Those records show GRIT investigators asked the Indiana State Police laboratory to further analyze DNA found in a sexual assault kit collected from Felicia Howard's body.

State police determined that the sample in that kit, which had been stored for years, contained DNA from Howard and an unknown male. Further investigation showed the male’s DNA matched Lofton, and its genetic profile was 1 trillion times more likely to originate from Lofton than from another male, court documents state.

Investigators later got a warrant for a saliva swab of Lofton, who agreed to give a DNA sample and asked if “maybe something could be wrong because he watches ‘Forensic Files’ on television,” court records state.




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