Cold Case Murders

By: Amy Morris
By: Amy Morris

Investigators in Bay County are hoping to clear as many as 19 unsolved murders off the books by joining forces. Four agencies have formed a cold case task force to generate new leads and evidence.

Some of the older cases may benefit from new technology.

Pamela Ray came to Panama City Beach on vacation 11 years ago. Her first night in town she disappeared. Ray is just one of 19 cold case files dating back to the 70's in Bay County.

Wednesday the Bay County Sheriff's Department with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Panama City and Beach Police are kicking off the cold case task force to compare notes on some of these tough cases.

Six of the 19 unsolved murders happened in Panama City. Deputy Chief John Vanetten says cooperation is key to solving some of these murders.

"We have six unsolved murder cases dating back to the mid 70’s with Desmond Ray being the most recent," says John VanEtten, Deputy Chief of the PCPD.

Several of these cold cases like Victoria Patterson's murder in the early 90's could benefit from new technology. DNA samples can be tested from smaller samples and a new nationwide database could hold the answer to many detectives’ questions.

"It's taken from anyone who commits a sexual battery or a murder, and by 2005 the database will hold a DNA comparison of every convicted felon," says Tommy Ford of FDLE.

Beach Police Chief Robert Harding took the original call when Pam Ray disappeared. He says her now grown children deserve to know what happened to their mother. A new look at the Pam Ray case could be all it takes to finally move it to the closed file.

The task force will rely on the officers who originally worked the cases, many of them long-since retired from police work.


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