‘Valentine Jane Doe’ rape, murder solved through DNA after 29 years

WEST SUMMERLAND KEY, Fla. — Wanda Deann Kirkum was never reported missing. Her parents are both dead.

Those facts did not stop Florida law enforcement officials from identifying Kirkum, 18, of Hornell, New York, as the woman whose brutalized body was found Feb. 15, 1991, in the Florida Keys. For the past 29 years, Kirkum was known only as “Valentine Jane Doe.”

Monroe County cold case investigators have also identified Kirkum’s killer through DNA samples he left on her body, which they have tied to the DNA from the scene of his own murder in April 1992 in Tarrant County, Texas.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay announced Monday that Robert Lynn Bradley has been identified as the man who beat, raped and strangled Kirkum, 18, with her own bikini top. Bradley was 31 years old when he was killed, and the Tarrant County homicide investigation determined he may have been living in Miami around the time Kirkum was killed.

Details of Bradley’s killing were not immediately available.

“Kirkum was seen hitchhiking out of Key West on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1991,” Ramsay said in a news release. “Witnesses recalled seeing her northbound on U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 10 on Big Coppitt Key, and again at Mile Marker 15. Kirkum was last seen at Mile Marker 17, still hitchhiking, at approximately 6:30 p.m.”

U.S. 1, known as the “Overseas Highway,” is the sole route from Miami to Key West.

Windsurfers found Kirkum’s bludgeoned body around 8:15 a.m. the next day off a dirt road that leads to an area known to locals as the “Horseshoe” recreation area. The spot is east of Big Pine Key and west of Bahia Honda Key, nearly 20 miles from where witnesses last Kirkum alive.

She was face down and naked but for the bikini top used to kill her.

Her other clothes were found nearby. That clothing, which included a Forenza cardigan sweater and black moccasin booties, was one of the only clues as to where Valentine Jane Doe came from.

The stretch marks on her abdomen gave an indication of who might be missing her.

“It is suspected the victim was not from this area due to her clothing and lack of tan lines,” the FBI wrote in a 2016 report entered into ViCAP, the agency’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. “An autopsy report surmised the victim may have carried a baby to full term.”

The fate of Kirkum’s child, if she had one, has not been made public.

Watch a 2016 Crime Watch Daily segment about the “Valentine Jane Doe” murder case below. Warning: The video contains graphic images.

Kirkum’s tattoos were also noted: a heart with the word “Love” in it on her left shoulder and a tiny cross with sun rays emanating from it in the webbing near her left thumb.

“Each ear had four piercings,” the ViCAP flyer stated. “Left ear had two non-matching earrings, and the right ear had four non-matching earrings.”

Ramsay said countless leads were followed over the years, with detectives amassing more than 4,000 pages of investigative documentation. Valentine Jane Doe was profiled on a number of television shows, including “Unsolved Mysteries.”

The case remained unsolved until Detective Vince Weiner of the department’s Major Crimes Unit teamed with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to use new DNA technology.

“I would like to personally thank Major Crimes Unit Detective Vince Weiner and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their efforts in solving this very serious and tragic crime,” Ramsay said in a statement. “This case is a testament and shining example of this agency’s commitment to solving crime, no matter how old the case and no matter the challenges.”