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DOJ gives Palm Beach County $500K for DNA testing to crack cold cases

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Senior Criminalist Michelle Halsing works on mitochondrial DNA testing at the State of California Department of Justice Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory in Richmond, Calif., Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLA) — Many of the nearly 500 cold case murders in Palm Beach County are dead in the water because the county can’t afford expensive DNA testing.
As a result, the Department of Justice is opening up its wallet to help crack these cases.
Palm Beach County sheriff’s office and State Attorney are getting a half million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Justice earmarked for advanced DNA testing.
Currently, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has 489 cold cases that date back to 1964.

The hope is that adding more of the latest in DNA technology will help investigators bring killers to justice and closure to extended grieving families.
“We have about 60 cases right now that we have identified a DNA source and still trying to establish a suspect,” Maj. Talal Masri said.

The major, alongside U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and State Prosecutor Dave Aronberg, announced that the funds would be used to buy more of the advanced DNA testing which could provide detectives with new suspect leads.
“This grant is important because, with new technology, we now have the ability to increase the DNA profiles to allow law enforcement to test DNA that could not be tested before,” Aronberg said.

“Unsolved homicides lead to grieving families and anxious neighbors, and it sends the wrong message to would-be criminals,” Frankel added.

The grant money also means more genetic genealogy testing. It’s where collected DNA samples are sent to private labs and entered into a public database for possible matches that could lead to identifying murder suspects.