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Grant will help UPD investigate cold cases

Posted on: 9:09 pm, February 25, 2013, by , updated on: 10:22pm, February 25, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Unified Police are hoping to make new progress on a series of unsolved murders going back decades.

The Unified Police Dept. recently got a grant from the National Institute of Justice that to help reexamine the cold case murders and rapes. Most of the money will go to DNA testing and to pay overtime for officers working the cases.

For most of the last decade, Unified Police Det. Todd Park has been the only member of the UPD cold case team.

He’s helped several cold case murders, including the 1974 murder of BYU student Barbara Gene Rocky, the 1989 death of Felicia Pappas and the 1994 killing of Brian Ruff.

Now, thanks to the grant, Park will have the money and manpower to start reviewing several other cold cases.

“We were awarded that grant this year, over 300,000 dollars,” Park said. “But now we’re utilizing other homicide detectives and family crimes detectives to look into these cold case homicides and cold case sexual assaults and throw some money at these that we probably wouldn’t be able to do.”

As more time passes, the importance of DNA evidence in a case becomes more important, but testing at the Utah Crime Lab can be expensive. The grant money can help pay for those tests that can help solve old murder cases and hopefully bring closure to families.

“No, this is a huge shot in the arm, we’re going to take off and and we’re gonna do some great things with this money. I’m super excited that we’re hopefully going to give some answers back to some of these families,” Park said.

The 1985 murder of 79-year-old Jean Muir is one of several cold cases that will be looked at again.

Police say Muir was stabbed nearly 100 times in her Kearns home the day after Christmas in 1985.

Police were never to arrest or even identify a possible suspect, and now they’re hoping DNA can help them identify someone.

Investigators are considering the possibility of a serial killer or rapist. Not long after Muir’s murder, there were other similar cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Lucille Johnson and Flora Rundle.

“I don’t know if they’re serial killers but there is some commonality between some of the cases. I’d like to look and see if that was something that was going on during that period of time,” Park said.

Anyone with tips about the murder of Jean Muir or any other cold case can contact Det. Todd Park at 801-743-5850 or go to updsl.org.

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