The Lancaster County District Attorney's office is looking to leverage federal dollars to help solve cold cases.
The office is applying for a $296,985 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. If approved, the money would go to fund DNA testing.
The cold case unit is hoping that by examining old cases, of which there are 41, they can generate new leads.
"The purpose would be to bring justice to several cold cases that have been pending in Lancaster County, dating back as far as 1975," assistant district attorney Christine Wilson said during a commissioners’ meeting this week.
However, the grant is very competitive. Only 10 will be approved nationwide, said Dale Brubaker, a grant specialist with the district attorney’s office.
The commissioners approved the grant application at Wednesday's meeting.
If awarded, the cold case unit would examine the cases to determine which had DNA evidence. That evidence would be sent to DNA Labs International, of Florida, for analysis and uploaded to CODIS, a national DNA index, Wilson said.
If there are no hits through CODIS, the samples would then be sent to Parabon NanoLabs.
Last year, Parabon helped solve the 1992 murder of Christy Mirack by comparing DNA from her killer to that of a relative uploaded to genealogy websites. A match from Parabon led to the arrest and eventual conviction of Raymond Rowe.
After Rowe’s January guilty plea and sentence to life in prison without parole, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman opened a new Cold Case Homicide Unit with a $10,000 budget for DNA analysis. Parabon’s genealogy work costs between $3,000 and $5,000, according to the district attorney’s office.