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Genetic testing offers hope for solving ’05 Hartford killing

May 9, 2021 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Authorities are hoping to solve a 16-year-old Hartford cold case murder by using new genetic genealogy testing made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Edward Bell was shot multiple times on the night of May 6, 2005 and died at a hospital. A $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for killing the 34-year-old father of three has remained unclaimed.

The case remains under investigation, but received a boost recently when the state applied for and received a three-year, $470,000 grant from the Justice Department, to be split between Hartford police, the state forensic lab and the Cold Case Unit and the Chief State’s Attorney’s Cold Case Unit, the New Haven Register reported.

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The money will be used to enable investigators to work with forensic genealogists to analyze DNA and build a family tree that could show connections to a potential suspect that wouldn’t have been evident at the time of the crime.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney John F. Fahey, head of the Cold Case Unit, told the newspaper that Hartford detectives zeroed in on about 50 to 60 cases that could benefit from new testing, with Bell’s case among them.

“Our focus was to utilize money on Hartford-specific homicides and missing person cases to try to see if there was any way to re-test evidence and then utilize genetic genealogy and get some persons of interest,” Fahey said.

Fahey added that efforts will be focused on cases where the state lab feels samples can be re-tested, and that that may not apply to all of the cases identified by the detectives.