Lake Sheriff’s Detectives Use DNA To Nab Suspect In Robbery Of World War II Veteran

Detectives with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office have been investigating a robbery to a 97-year-old World War II veteran since July 2019. The hard work and persistence of the assigned detective paid off when a positive DNA match was made linking the suspect, 29-year-old Kevin Eugene Leeks, Jr., to the crime.

In July, the 97-year-old victim, Mr. Willard VanOrder, drove his lawnmower to a convenience store in the Okahumpka area to purchase groceries. Upon returning home, he was met at the back door of his residence by a suspect armed with a gun. Family members later found Mr. VanOrder unconscious with head injuries and it was discovered that his wallet was missing.

Detectives located a Black and Mild cigarillo tip at the scene of the robbery and collected it for processing.

During the investigation, detectives obtained security video from the convenience store at which time they observed a black male in the store near Mr. VanOrder at the time of his purchase. The male subject purchased a Black and Mild cigarillo and left within minutes of Mr. VanOrder.

Detectives were able to identify the subject in the video as Leeks. A search warrant was obtained for a sample of his DNA, which was then sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s lab for testing. Leeks’ DNA was matched to the DNA on the cigarillo tip found at the scene, as well as DNA on Mr. VanOrder’s pants.

Leeks was located today by the US Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force at a hotel in Leesburg. He was taken into custody without incident on the Lake County Warrant charging him with Home Invasion/Robbery with a Firearm and Theft from a Person 65 Years of Age or Older.

The probable cause affidavit is attached and outlines the specific findings throughout the investigation.

Leeks’ booking photo will be available on the Sheriff’s Office website once processing is complete.

Released by John Herrell, Lady Lake Sheriff Office


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