DNA grant may help solve cold cases

HOLLYWOOD -- The Hollywood Police Department announced on Wednesday that it received a $242,000 grant from the federal government to target about 90 of their cold cases, some of which date back to the 1960s.

“We look forward to provide closure, or answers to previously unanswered questions to surviving family members of our victims,” said Sgt. Lyle Bien, of the department’s homicide department.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s grant, known simply as “Solving Cold Cases With DNA,” involves an 18-month initiative that provides training for detectives and crime technicians.

It also covers the cost of sending DNA samples to private laboratories, said department spokesman Lt. Norris Redding.

Investigators have begun sorting through the unsolved cases and determining which ones have the best chances of being cracked with the use of DNA forensics, said Redding.

“All of our cases are top priority, but some are more likely to produce more viable evidence than others,” said Bien.

Police plan to start reopening investigations in January.

Among the cold cases that will be reviewed is the homicide of Stacy Wytrva, 12, who was found dead on June 17, 1980, at Hollywood’s Hillcrest Golf & Country Club.

The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office said she was strangled. Police believe there is evidence that she was sexually assaulted.

DNA evidence may also prove pivotal in the whodunit case of a woman found dismembered inside a storage unit more than four decades ago.

The owner of the storage facility on the 5700 block of Funston Street found the dismembered torso on Jan. 17, 1967.

The unidentified woman is believed to be between the ages of 35 and 40, according to police.

Investigators are hoping DNA will help them identify her.