wjxt logo

Project: Cold Case bringing genealogy DNA testing to weekend event

Countless families across the country are still waiting for answers in a loved ones' murder. Investigators are working with the Jacksonville-based group, "Project: Cold Case" to help give families some closure. This weekend, the group is hosting its annual "New Hope" fundraising event.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Countless families across the nation are still waiting for answers in their loved ones’ murder. Some of them have been waiting for decades.

Investigators are working with the Jacksonville-based group, Project: Cold Case, in hopes of solving more cold cases. This Saturday, the group is hosting its 5th annual “New Hope” fundraising event.

For Project: Cold Case founder and executive director, Ryan Backmann, the mission is personal. His father, Clifford, was shot and killed 10 years ago this past October in Jacksonville.

“We live with it every day and deal with it every day, but there was something about hitting that 10-year mark with still no answers,” Backmann said.

No answers, but not lost hope. For waiting families, hope lies in genealogy DNA testing. With the information collected from genetic profiles uploaded to databases, investigators can identify relatives, then narrow down suspects in cold cases.

"Genetic genealogy is the biggest breakthrough in cold case investigations since DNA. You can’t turn on a TV and watch the news each week without seeing another case that is solved using genetic genealogy,” Backmann said.

For the “New Hope” event Saturday, Project: Cold Case is partnering with Innovative Forensic DNA, a Virginia-based genetic genealogy company. The company is providing 100 at-home DNA kits at the event.

With this technology leading to arrests all over the country, Backmann’s hope is for people to consider “opting in”. He said doing so could lead to answers for waiting families.

“We want people to participate. We want people to know what these databases mean and how they could help cold cases all across the country."

Since Project: Cold Case launched 5 years ago, the group has featured the stories and pictures over 700 individuals whose murders remain unsolved. Backmann said more 23,000 are in the cold case database and said the current oldest case is from 1961. To date, he said 11 of those cases have led to arrests.

The “New Hope” event is taking place Saturday, January 25th, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. It is happening Hardage -Giddens Oaklawn Legacy Lodge Center. The address is 1601 Oaklawn Place in Jacksonville.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.