-- Here's an unsettling fact: there's more than 1,200 unsolved cold cases in the city of Jacksonville dating back to the 1970s.It's a number Ryan Backmann, whose father is on that list, is working to change.In 2015, he created ' Project Cold Case', a website that highlights unsolved homicide cases from all over the country.
His father's case remains unsolved nearly seven years after he was killed in a robbery and shooting on the Southside."He was working alone at a construction site on a Saturday afternoon, trying to make extra money to help support his wife who was suffering from stage 4 breast cancer," he said.Police followed every lead but had little evidence from the scene, Backmann said."You automatically just assume that in a few days you'll get the call that they made an arrest, and in a year you'll be in the courthouse, and at some point the bad guy will be put away," he said.Backmann has done a lot of research over the years and is troubled by the way cities and states keep track of cold cases.For the past three years, he's been trying to develop cold case legislation that would help jurisdictions develop a more uniform way to track the number of cold cases in Florida.Right now, he's working closely with Senator Aaron Bean from Fernandina Beach to reintroduce a bill that would create a task force to study Florida's cold case practices.
Ideally, the task force would be made up of prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, victims’ families, medical examiners, and other stakeholders involved in unsolved homicide cases, he said."Some people like to think that there's one demographic that's affected by murder, and that's it one age group and one race and one gender, and our website disproves that,” he said.The website also features a new cold case database that lets people search through hundreds of unsolved cases, most of which are local.Backmann hopes the online exposure will encourage people to give police that one tip that could help solve a homicide."So I can spend all of my time focused on my dad's case, when I believe law enforcement when they say there's not a lot of evidence, or I can shift my focus and try helping other people where maybe there's a better chance of a case being solved," he said.This month, the project is highlighting the case of 16-year-old Tiphne Hollis through it's 'spotlight' section. Whitaker-Ward said she’s glad ‘Project Cold Case’ is shedding light on her daughter’s murder.The sophomore at Ed White High School was shot and killed at the intersection of Calvin and Belfort Streets in 2010. To submit a case to the cold case database, click here.Her mother tells First Coast News she'll continue to do monthly walks in that neighborhood until someone comes forward with information about her case. To search unsolved homicides in your neighborhood, click here.