1987 Barbara Blatnik Homicide Solved using Genetic Genealogy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE from Identifinders International to ACJ:

Cleveland, OHMay 6, 2020 – Identifinders International , in conjunction with the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department and The Porchlight Project, is pleased to announce an arrest in the 1987 murder of Barbara Blatnik. Barbara, 17 years old, was last seen the night of December 19, 1987, when she was dropped off by a friend at the corner of Warner Road and Grand Division in Garfield Heights, Ohio. Her body was discovered the next morning near the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

In March, 2020, James Zastawnick was identified as a suspect using genetic genealogy and was arrested by the Cuyahoga Falls Detective Bureau today. This case is a landmark as the first known crime solved using genetic genealogy based on a DNA mixture of the victim and her assailant. “I am proud of our team,” said Colleen Fitzpatrick, President of Identifinders International. “This has been a great example of what collaboration between law enforcement and genetic genealogists can accomplish. “Sexual assault cases involving mixtures can be challenging for conventional DNA analysis. The innovative techniques we used to separate the mixture and identify Barbara’s killer using genetic genealogy will go a long way to solving similar cases in the future,” says Dr. Fitzpatrick. “We are grateful to James Renner and The Porchlight Project for their support and look forward to further collaboration in the future.”

“This arrest shows the incredible power of DNA technology and the cleverness of the genetic genealogists at Identifinders. I’m so happy the Porchlight Project could assist in bringing Barbie’s killer to light,” said Renner. The Porchlight Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers support for the families of the missing and murdered by providing media attention, private investigator services, and
victims’ assistance.

About Identifinders International
Identifinders International is a fee-based forensic service that works with law enforcement agencies, coroners, and medical examiners to apply genetic genealogy, Y-DNA and autosomal SNP analysis to solve cold case homicides, sexual assaults, and unidentified remains. For more information, please visit http://www.identifinders.com .

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