ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida detectives said that they used DNA from a cigarillo tip left at the scene to arrest a man who robbed a World War II veteran and left him unconscious with head injuries.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office said that detectives have been investigating a robbery to a 97-year-old World War II veteran since July 2019. They said that the victim, Willard VanOrder, drove his lawnmower to a convenience store in the Okahumpka area to purchase groceries on the day of the incident. When he returned home, a suspect armed with a gun was reportedly at his door. Family members later found VanOrder unconscious with head injuries. His wallet was also missing.
Detectives said that they found a Black and Mild cigarillo tip at the scene of the robbery and collected it for processing. They also obtained security video from the convenience store. In the video, they reportedly observed a black male in the store near VanOrder. He purchased a Black and Mild cigarillo and left the store allegedly within minutes of VanOrder.
The subject in the video has been identified as 29-year-old Eugene Leeks Jr., detectives said. A search warrant was obtained for a sample of his DNA and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's lab for testing. His DNA was said to have matched with the DNA found on the cigarillo tip at the scene, as well as the DNA on VanOrder's pants.
Leeks was reportedly located at a hotel in Leesburg and taken into custody on February 12. He is being charged for Home Invasion/ Robbery with a Firearm and Theft from a Person 65 Years of Age or Older.
This story was written in Orlando, Florida.