Our First Case: Barbara Blatnik


Press Release for Barbara Blatnik Unsolved Homicide

Aug. 18, 2019 | Press Releases


New DNA Tests Ordered for 1987 Barbara Blatnik Homicide –Forensic Genealogy Team Will Use Profile in Attempt to Identify Killer.


Cuyahoga Falls, OH – The Cuyahoga Falls Police Department and The Porchlight Project announce a new initiative to solve the 1987 murder of Barbara Blatnik. On December 20, 1987, around 10 a.m., the nude body of 17-year-old Barbara Blatnik was discovered alongside O’Neil Road, a narrow access road that leads into Blossom Music Center off Steels Corners. Barbara, or “Barbie,” as her friends called her, was from Garfield Heights and was last seen alive the night before. She was dropped off by a friend at the corner of Warner Road and Grand Division in Garfield Heights, around midnight. Her injuries were consistent with being strangled.


At the time of her murder, Barbie’s sister, Donna Zanath, was preparing for her wedding. Barbie would have been her maid of honor. Donna describes Barbie as a beautiful young woman and a bit of a free spirit. “She loved music,” says Donna. “AC/DC, Led Zeppelin. She once hitchhiked from Garfield Heights to Richfield to see Angus Young. She managed to work her way up to the front row. She’s one of those people who could walk into a room and connect with everyone.”


Last week, the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department asked the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct additional tests on DNA found under Barbie’s fingernails to generate a more complete genetic profile for their suspect. According to Chief Jack Davis, “As a department we have continuously looked at ways to bring justice to Barbara Blatnik and her family. Hopefully this partnership with The Porchlight Project will bring us one step closer to accomplishing that goal.”


Additional DNA tests and genealogical analysis will be coordinated by Colleen Fitzpatrick and her team of forensic genealogists at Identifinders International. In 2018, Identifinders worked with the Washoe County, NV Sheriff’s Office on the 1982 Sheeps Flat Jane Doe case to identify James Richard Curry as the killer of their Jane Doe, who in parallel was identified through the DNA Doe Project as Mary Silvani. Curry was a serial killer charged with three murders.


The Porchlight Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to funding new investigations of cold cases in Northern Ohio, will pay for the independent tests and for the forensic genealogy team. This is the very first case that The Porchlight Project has assisted with. “I’m very familiar with the Barbara Blatnik case,” says Porchlight Project president, James Renner. “It’s one of Ohio’s most frustrating unsolved mysteries. I’m pleased our organization can help. We think we have a real shot at finally finding Barbie’s killer, and soon.”


If you have information about the murder of Barbara Blatnik, please contact Detectives Dirker or Hursh, at the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department Detective Bureau, 330-971-8334.


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13 thoughts on “Our First Case: Barbara Blatnik

  1. I don’t understand why her friend would drop her off on the corner at midnight and not take her directly to her house? I’ll have to read more about this case. Can’t wait for the killer to be caught!

    1. Because of the parking lot situation there, it was actually easier to drop her off at the corner and let her walk over.

  2. Wow! Congrats on your first solved case! Can’t wait to see what you take on next!

  3. I am grateful to hear that an arrest has been made, my thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones.

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