CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — DNA evidence from 23 years ago led Clarksville police to make an arrest in the 1996 murder of 23-year-old Crista Bramlitt.
Kenneth Hudspeth, 48, was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Bramlitt, who died of suffocation.
On the afternoon of October 28, 1996, Clarksville police responded to Sunnydale Mobile Home Park on Peachers Mill Road and found Bramlitt, who was dead inside a home.
There were obvious signs that she had been murdered and it appeared she had been sexually assaulted, investigators said.
During an autopsy, police said a sexual assault evidence collection kit was completed and sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for analysis.
A DNA profile was loaded into the Combined DNA Index System in search of a possible match.
In February of this year, a match came through. Clarksville police received an official report from the TBI Crime Lab that identified Hudspeth, from previously submitted evidence.
Hudspeth was living in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix police put him under surveillance for several days, then picked him up. Clarksville Det. Mike Ulrey went to Phoenix to interview the suspect on April 16.
During the interview, investigators said they determined Hudspeth was in Clarksville at the time of the murder, he allegedly knew the victim, was at the residence the day of the killing and was the last person to see Bramlitt alive.
Hudspeth was arrested and will be transported to Clarksville, where he will be booked into the Montgomery County jail.
Det. Ulrey says solving this cold case sends a message to the families waiting for justice.
“This gives them hope that one day as technology goes on or as manpower increases that we’re gonna be able to bring justice to their families also.”
Crista Bramlitt was a young mother when her life was cut short. When the family heard an arrest had been made after 23 years, they were relieved, says Crista’s aunt, Jamie Doll.
“There’s not a day goes by I didn’t think of Crista. I’d known her since she was a month old,“ says Doll. “She was extremely funny, wise beyond her years. It was an extreme loss, not that any loss isn’t. It was rough.”
Doll has this message for Clarksville Police: “Thank you. God bless you. I never had any doubt. Dealing with them has been top notch.”