The Cuyahoga Falls Police Department and The Porchlight Project announced Friday a new initiative to solve the 1987 murder of Barbara Blatnik.
Last week, the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department asked the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct additional tests on DNA found under Blatnik’s fingernails to generate a more complete genetic profile for their suspect.
"As a department, we have continuously looked at ways to bring justice to Barbara Blatnik and her family," said Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis. "Hopefully, this partnership with The Porchlight Project will bring us one step closer to accomplishing that goal."
Additional DNA tests and genealogical analysis will be coordinated by Colleen Fitzpatrick and her team of forensic genealogists at IdentiFinders International.
On Dec. 20, 1987, around 10 a.m., the nude body of 17-year-old Blatnik was discovered alongside O’Neil Road, a narrow access road that leads into Blossom Music Center off Steels Corners Road. Her injuries were consistent with being strangled.
Blatnik was from Garfield Heights and was last seen alive the night before. She was dropped off by a friend at the corner of Warner Road and Grand Division Avenue in Garfield Heights around midnight.
At the time of her murder, Blatnik’s sister, Donna Zanath, was preparing for her wedding. Blatnik would have been her maid of honor. Zanath describes Blatnik as a beautiful young woman and a bit of a free spirit.
"She loved music," said Zanath. "AC/DC, Led Zeppelin. She once hitchhiked from Garfield Heights to Richfield to see Angus Young. She managed to work her way up to the front row. She’s one of those people who could walk into a room and connect with everyone."
The Porchlight Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to funding new investigations of cold cases in northern Ohio, will pay for the independent tests and for the forensic genealogy team. This is the very first case that The Porchlight Project has assisted with.
"I’m very familiar with the Barbara Blatnik case," says Porchlight Project president James Renner. "It’s one of Ohio’s most frustrating unsolved mysteries. I’m pleased our organization can help. We think we have a real shot at finally finding Barbie’s killer, and soon."
Those with information about Blatnik’s murder should call Cuyahoga Falls Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 330-971-8334.