JACKSONVILLE, FL - Murders are something we report on frequently. Some of those murders are solved and families get their day in court. Others wait months or years hoping for an answer. It is a whole different type of grief when you realize your loved one’s case has gone cold.
This week we are taking a look at some of the cases in our area still waiting to be solved, because time may be the factor that witnesses or tipsters needed to feel comfortable to come forward.
For Ryan Backmann, the world changed on October 10, 2009. His father was murdered just after noon in an office complex under construction on Bonneval Road.
"Someone walked in, shot him in the back and took his wallet and fled," told Ryan Backmann solemnly.
"My dad lost consciousness while on the phone with the 911 operator and passed away at the hospital," explained Backmann.
His father was able to give a brief description of his attacker to the operator, but it wasn't enough to catch his killer. Clifford Backmann had taken the extra job to help pay for the medical costs of his wife, Jane, who was battling cancer.
"Two plain clothes detectives got out of a marked car and said they were sorry to tell me, but my dad had been murdered earlier that day," said Ryan Backmann.
As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, Jane passed away from cancer, and then Ryan Backmann was hit with another blow.
"The detectives told me they had run out of leads and evidence and were no longer looking. That was a blow that I just wasn’t prepared for. You don’t realize that one day the leads will run out, that one day there is no more evidence, it has all been tested," told Backmann.
Ryan Backmann says he believes the detectives did everything they could to solve his father’s murder, it is now in the hands of the Cold Case Unit at JSO.
Sgt. Dan Janson in the Cold Case Unit knows the Backmann case very well.
"We pulled all the video, but there was nothing we could find and there was no video in the complex he was working in, it was a vacant office building. So all we basically have is a 911 call and a projectile, so it is not much to go on," explained Sgt. Janson.
There isn’t a day that goes by Ryan doesn’t think of his father and the fact that he will never get to meet his little granddaughter, born two years ago. Though it is a cold case, Sgt. Janson says there is always a chance a new lead will form.
"You never know, you never know when you will get a hit off a projectile or casing or a witness who gets in trouble and says 'I want to help myself out, I know what happened' or 'someone told me what happened', you get a jail house snitch," told Sgt. Janson.
In the meantime, Ryan holds onto the belief that justice will be served even if he doesn’t see it directly.
"You kind of have to believe that justice comes not on this earth," told Backmann,"Whatever your beliefs are, people that harm other human beings will have to pay for that in some way that is just."
After his father’s murder, Ryan also began Project: Cold Case. One of the big tasks he’s accomplished, putting together a database open to the public of cold cases in hopes that renewed attention on the cases could generate leads.
Tuesday we will have more on how he started Project: Cold Case here in Jacksonville and take you inside JSO's Cold Case vault.
If you have any information on the murder of Clifford Backmann, call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.