The founders of Project Justice, a Las Vegas-based crime-fighting nonprofit, are raising money for Osram, a private investigative DNA laboratory, taking cold cases forward one case at a time.
“In 2020, we were doing a lot for the Las Vegas community and found a company called Osram in Houston, Texas,” said Justin Wu, who spearheaded the project on FOX. He told News Digital.
“And we were talking to them about the amazing things they were doing with DNA and forensic genealogy to solve crimes, so we gave them a condition: If in Las Vegas If we find a case, we will fully support it.”
It ended up being the cold case of the 1989 murder of 14-year-old Stephanie Isaacson.
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Wu is a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist based in Las Vegas. He co-founded Project Justice with his wife Lydia Ansel, a DJ and renowned violinist.
With the help of Osram and donated funds, the Las Vegas Police Department was able to identify Darren R. Marchand as a suspect in the cold case of Isaacson's murder.
Marchand was arrested and released for the death of Nanette Vanderburgh in 1986, three years before Isaacson's murder, Fox News Digital previously reported. DNA from both crime scenes matched.
Osram tested the link in what Wu called a “Hail Mary” DNA sample: 15 human cells from Isaacson's case. Previous tests in 1998 and 2007 yielded no results. Marchand committed suicide in 1995.
According to Project Justice, there are currently more than 250,000 unsolved murder investigations in the United States, with an average of 6,000 new cases added each year. But advances in DNA testing are increasingly helping detectives solve cases.
After the Isaacson case, Wu and Ansel continued to raise money and fund projects, eventually founding Project Justice and contributing funds to investigate approximately 100 cold cases, 22 of which were He said it has been resolved.
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The solved cases helped convince the Las Vegas Police Department to expand its cold case unit from one detective to the entire department, Wu said. Las Vegas police did not respond to requests for comment.
“Justin was excited about it and was like, 'Okay, let's do more cases.' So he asked a few friends, including myself,” Ansel said. “And then we fully sponsored one lawsuit and he named it the Las Vegas Justice League. … And from there, the more we did it, the more we wanted to do it. So we basically branched out and Justin and I will be participating in something called Project Justice, which is going to be national.”
Project Justice describes itself as a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting American law enforcement by paying for state-of-the-art DNA testing at independent laboratories.
“As technology rapidly evolves, local law enforcement agencies are challenged to access these new resources, and Project Justice is committed to supporting their efforts.” told Fox News Digital.
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In addition to donating their own money, Wu and Ansel are raising money for more cases on their website ProjectJustice.com. So far, donations ranging from $10 to $494,000 have been received from single donors.
Since the arrest of “Golden Gate killer” James DeAngelo in California in 2018, advances in DNA testing have increasingly helped detectives across the country solve cold cases.
Earlier this week, New York prosecutors touted the role of a “cutting-edge” SNP test in solving the Long Island serial murders.
Rex Heuerman, a New York City architect who had lived for decades in an upscale suburb 32 miles from the site where a series of bodies were discovered more than a decade ago, was arrested Tuesday when researchers found him among the victims. After matching the hair, he was charged with fourth-degree murder. Mr. Heuerman, his wife and daughter.
He is believed to have accidentally transferred his family's DNA to the victim while out and about.
FOX News' Bonnie Chu contributed to this report.