A gruesome Delray Beach murder baffled Palm Beach County Sheriff's detectives for over four decades, until now. New DNA tests revealed a match to the alleged murderer who beat, raped, and killed a 37-year-old Delray Beach housewife.
It's hard to imagine what the Antiquers Aerodrome community in Delray Beach looked like in 1975. It wasn't gated back then and in a satellite view of the neighborhood you can see airplanes parked behind homes.
"It was the first time I had ever been to a neighborhood that had airplanes parking in the rear. They actually took off and landed right behind people's homes," said Emilio Diamantis, a retired Palm Beach Sheriff's Office detective.
Diamantis worked at the Delray Beach substation at the time of Jean Savage's murder. He remembers the cold case. Savage and husband lived on Skyline Drive. A 1977 Palm Beach Post article about the cold case explains how Savage's husband sold planes in Fort Lauderdale and flew to and from work from home. On June 4, 1975 he got home from work and found his wife Jean dead, brutally beaten and stabbed.
"The old adage that the 48 hours make or break a case are very true," said Diamantis.
Evidence was collected revealing Mrs. Savage was also raped. Interviews were conducted, but there were no answers leading to who killed the woman described in a Palm Beach Post article as a sweet 37-year-old housewife.
"When I retired n 1983 we had absolutely no leads on the case whatsoever," added Diamantis.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office posted a Facebook Friday saying last year the agency's Cold Case Unit processed evidence collected at the time of the murder into a DNA database. There was a match. It matched James Franklin Rose, an inmate awaiting death row for killing an 8-year-old girl in Broward County one year after Jean's murder.
"It's a tremendous credit to the agency that stored DNA samples and are able to compare those samples so many years later," said Diamantis who could not even imagine what DNA could do during his 17 years at the sheriff's office prior to 1983.
Four decades is a long time to get closure and Diamantis knows there are a lot of cold cases out there still, but good crime scene work and the evolution of technology adds hope.
"Families need to know that the police departments don't just put the case in a drawer and close the drawer. That their work continues and it's very important to solve cases not just for the purpose of the families, but for justice," added Diamantis.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says Cold Case Unit detectives interviewed Rose and says he confessed to raping and killing Jean Savage.
More recent news articles dated in the early 2000s indicate that Mr. Savage has since died and they never had any children together.