JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Florida 4th District Attorney, which is giving new hope to local families whose loved ones have been killed, has received a grant of $ 470,000 to reconsider cold cases.
The grant, provided by the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, will provide funds to help prosecutors in the Jacksonville area re-examine DNA evidence to investigate and prosecute decades of cold cases.
Unsolved murders are considered colds after three years.
In the grant application, the public prosecutors said they had identified more than 740 pending cold cases between 1995 and 2016. Ninety of them were homicides containing DNA.
“Family members never forget. And neither do we, “said District Attorney Melissa Nelson, whose office started the Cold Case Initiative in 2017.” Cold cases are difficult to investigate and rewarding to resolve. This funding will help us continue our search for the truth and provide answers to loved ones. “
Nelson’s coworkers pointed out that DNA had already helped resolve several known local cases, including the 1984 sexual battery and the murder of a 10-year-old girl and the kidnapping of a newborn from a hospital in 1998.
“Yes, there are colds. You are. But they’re still human, ”said Michelle James, whose mother Valerie Ames was stabbed to death in 1996 in a riverside apartment.
The murder of the 31-year-old mother of two is still unsolved. James, who was 5 years old when her mother was murdered, holds on to hope that the scholarship could close her family.
“I want justice. I want an arrest. Yes I do. Above all, I want a name so I can name this face, ”said James. “There are so many facts and things we know about what happened to my mother that we believe there is a lot that could be brought to the table to help solve her case.”
Ryan Backmann is the founder and CEO of Project Cold Case, a nonprofit that works with police, prosecutors and families. He founded the organization after his father Cliff Backmann’s murder in 2009, which remains unsolved.
“The technology is advancing so fast that the DNA tested two years ago may already be tested again,” said Backmann.
Believing the grant could help police and prosecutors uncover new leads and suspects, he notes that Jacksonville has committed more than 1,500 unsolved murders.
“All of these new technologies are cutting-edge, but also extremely expensive. So if you have a grant that’s willing to cover this stuff, that’s no longer an excuse,” Backmann said. “This is how we can get to the point of getting one of those cases where the DNA has been tested with the latest technology.”
Anyone with information on unsolved cases can call First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477). Tipsters can remain anonymous and receive a reward if they are arrested.
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