Unsolved murders brought to light in SJC

Local, state agencies join commission to bring families closure

By Allyson Henning - Reporter, Nick Jones - Digital producer

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Local and state law enforcement agencies came together Friday in St. Johns County, hoping to bring light to unsolved murders that have been cold cases for years.

Ryan Backman was at the meeting and recently joined the Cold Case Advisory Commission; a statewide effort to bring closure to victims' families.

Specific cold cases were brought to light during Friday's committee meeting. They include:

  • Pamela Cantaline of St. Luice County
  • Joe Wall of Putnam County
  • Richard Jackson of St. Johns County

After his father was murdered during a robbery in 2009, Backman created Project: Cold Case in effort to serve other families who lost loved ones in homicides that remain unsolved. Backman's father's murder remains one of 1,400 unsolved murders in Jacksonville.

"The whole reason I started the organization was because you start to feel like nobody cares and that you're forgotten," Backman said. "That's a really hard pill to swallow."

Backman started the website Project: Cold Case to feature photos of families' loved ones who were murdered, making sure they aren't forgotten.

"Now I can recognize how many law enforcement agencies and officers are out there that really are fighting to find these killers and get them off our streets and bring resolutions to the families," Backman said.

The Cold Case Advisory Commission is made up of experts from a variety of areas including law enforcement, medical examiners, prosecutors and forensics.

Lieutenant Robert Dean with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said he's honored to be part of the effort.

"They challenge us and we love that," Dean said. "We speak for those victims that can't speak, but we also speak for the family in attempt to bring them closure."

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