New fingerprint technology leads to arrest in 1983 Florida cold-case murder

Police found the body of Pompano Beach resident Carla Lowe, then 21, lying in the street near the Amtrak station on Nov. 13, 1983.

December 6, 2021

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Nearly four decades after a Florida woman was found beaten to death, her body run over near a Delray Beach train station, city police have arrested a man they believe was responsible for her murder.

Law-enforcement officers took Ralph Williams into custody in Jacksonville on Monday after a grand jury indicted him in the 1983 murder of Carla Lowe, a 21-year-old woman from southern Florida.

The arrest was the first for Delray Beach's cold-case unit, which the department formed in January.

Investigators said new fingerprint technology led them to Williams, who is believed to have killed Lowe on Nov. 13, 1983, while she waited at an Amtrak train station.

"This is the exact reason why the cold-case position was initiated earlier this year," Delray Beach Police Chief Javaro Sims said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the department's headquarters. "To help bring some level of closure to the families who have lost any hope of justice for their losses."

There was no apparent connection between Lowe and Williams, and a motive for the murder was not known, Detective Todd Clancy, the leader of Delray Beach's cold-case unit, said Tuesday.

Clancy said new technology from a company based in England helped investigators obtain fingerprints from a piece of evidence that was left at the scene.

"We weren't able to get this fingerprint in the old traditional way that crime scene would get fingerprints," he said. "There's a new process out there by the Foster & Freeman company based out of the UK, and they have a new machine out there and it's able to get a fingerprint."

Detectives did not elaborate on where the fingerprint was found, saying the investigation remains open.

As Clancy and current and former Delray Beach investigators spoke, members of Lowe's family watched nearby. They did not speak at the news conference and left without taking questions. Jackie Lowe-Repass, Carla's sister, later released a statement through police.

"I just want the world to know Carla was a good person," Lowe-Repass' statement said. "She was a beautiful and giving person. She wasn't just a piece of trash that someone threw away." 

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