Last year, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that state lawmakers had approved asking for $50,000 to create a task force to study Florida’s cold case practices.
For Ryan Backmann, creator of the cold case database, getting the bill passed is personal.
“It’s one thing for me to care because the person who killed my dad is still out there,” Backmann said. “But the person who killed my dad is in line behind your husband at the grocery store, is walking through the parking lot of your child's school — these are murderers on our streets.”
Fernandina Beach Republican Senator Aaron Bean, an advocate for the cold case bill to be passed, appeared on Wednesday’s episode First Coast Connect, along with Backmann and WJCT reporter Lindsey Kilbride to discuss presenting the bill to legislative once again.
“There is a natural inclination for the government to get involved and make this happen, and I believe that, and I am going to make sure the state of Florida plays a part in this,” Bean said.
Bean says that sometimes it takes several attempts to pass a bill through legislation and remarked, “they say that the fourth time's the charm.”
In going forward with proposing this bill to legislation again, Bean said there is still a lot of work to be done because there is not an agreement among law enforcement about what information should be made public about many of the cold cases.
“We want to have clear definitions among all law enforcement,” Bean said, “so we can have a database because no one wants to participate on it without jeopardizing any case."
Currently, Backmann has developed a cold case database with more than 1,300 cases logged, mostly from Duval, Clay and St.Johns Counties, and he's looking to fill it up with all of Florida's. Some cases have even been submitted by families outside Florida.
“You start to feel that it is out of the public eye — there's no one out there that is paying attention, that's looking, that's actively publicizing your loved one case — and we wanted to change that,” Backmann said.
Backmann has also created a Facebook page called “Cold Case Spotlight Weekly” can be viewed by the public at anytime.
“We don't need a million people to see it,” Backmann said. “We need one- the right one- to see these cases.”
With the number of unsolved murder cases growing each day, Bean says that he is happy to be teaming up with Backmann in getting this bill passed with legislation.
“What I want this database to do is just bring hope. I’ve met with dozen of other families, like the Backmann's, that have no hope because no one is looking for their killer- there is no justice. Not only is there no justice for the family, but there is a killer out there that may do it again. We are going to bring hope with this database,” Bean said.