Familial DNA leads to arrest in 1988 Pinellas County cold case

Larry Eugene Gould is behind bars facing charges of Armed Sexual Battery stemming from a 1988 rape case in Pinellas County, detectives said. 

According to detectives, a man walked into Carrie Hawkins Distinctive Gifts shop in St. Petersburg on Sept. 24, 1988, and asked the victim, who was working alone, for assistance. During their conversation, the suspect produced a knife and ordered the victim into the back room of the store where he threatened and sexually battered her before fleeing the store, detectives said. 
Pinellas deputies responded to the scene, collected evidence, and a SAVE examination was conducted, but they couldn’t identify any suspects at the time.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, detectives reviewed the case in 1994 by conducting more interviews and additional evidence was submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

A male DNA profile was developed from the collected evidence in 1996 and a suspect profile was entered into the local, state and national level of CODIS, but there were no matches, detectives said. Numerous suspects were developed, but were either eliminated through DNA or incarceration.

According to the PCSO, Detectives in the Cold Case Homicide Unit began a review of the case in Nov. 2017 and were able to eliminate several suspects with additional DNA samples. The suspect’s profile remained in CODIS with no matches being found.

Detectives completed a written request with the State Attorney’s Office to the FDLE Familial Search Review Committee in Feb. 2019. The committee reviewed and approved the request to expand the DNA search to possible family members of the suspect.

In Sept. 2019, detectives said they were contacted by the FDLE Genetic Genealogy Team who told them they received a familial hit from a search in this case. The search revealed a convicted offender in the database was a direct male relative of the unidentified DNA suspect profile.

Using this lead, investigators found that 54-year-old Larry Eugene Gould was a possible suspect. Gould was 23 years old at the time of the crime and lived in Pinellas County when the sexual battery occurred. Gould currently resides in Gallatin, Tennessee.

According to detectives, Gould did not dispute the DNA evidence but denied raping anyone. Detectives said Gould told them that he would have consensual sexual relations with people within their open business and within minutes of meeting them.  

Gould was booked into the Sumner County Tennessee Jail on one count of armed sexual battery and will be extradited to the Pinellas County Jail.