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Tulsa police receive federal grant to help solve cold cases

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 24, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Families of cold case victims now have a new glimmer of hope thanks to a recent federal grant.

The Tulsa Police Department is using a roughly $500,000 grant to help aid in the testing of DNA.

Ronnie Leatherman spent 22 years serving on the force, but recently retired a few years ago to work at the Tulsa Police Department’s crime lab as an analyst.

Thanks to a new grant, Leatherman is returning to his old stomping ground.

“The homicide guys got a grant to prosecute cold cases using DNA and through that grant, they were able to fund a position for someone to help out Sgt. Stiles in investigating these cold cases, and it also has funds to test evidence for DNA,” said Leatherman.

Leatherman said there are nearly 300 cold cases, some that date back to the 1960's.
“We’re going to start going through the cases and see if there is DNA that can be tested especially stuff from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s and you know DNA wasn’t really being tested back then so there is a chance that there is several of these that could have DNA and hopefully with that, we will be able to solve several of them,” said Leatherman.

Leatherman says that genealogical testing can be very expensive, anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

Monica Galchik lost her stepsister, Lisa Gaskin to a brutal murder in March of 2000.

There is DNA in her stepsister’s case, and she is thrilled this new grant could lead to a possible break in Lisa’s case.

“It’s been 24 years, 24 whole years where there’s not been any type of closure and it’s just like an open wound to the family. It gives us hope. Maybe, just maybe,’ said Galchik.

Leatherman says another important factor in solving cold cases is the public.

“The huge thing is getting the public’s help and people who are witnesses coming forward and basically just doing the right thing and helping us solve these cases. We’re definitely going to give it our best shot and see how many of these we can solve,” said Leatherman.

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