A teenage girl Barbara Blatnik, a well-liked youngster, went missing on December 19, 1987. She was dropped off by a friend at the intersection of Warner Road and Grand Division in Garfield Heights the previous evening when she was last seen alive. After the victim’s dead corpse was found by the side of a road some 25 miles from her house, the missing person case was transformed into a homicide inquiry. The documentary “On The Case With Paula Zahn: Lost Life Evidence Found” on Investigation Discovery recounts the gruesome killing and demonstrates how the subsequent investigation made every effort to discover the truth. Let’s investigate, what exactly happened to her and who killed her?
Who Was Barbara Blatnik?
Popular 17-year-old Barbara Blatnik lived in Garfield Heights, Ohio, with her parents. Her sister Donna Zanath, whom she adored and called “Barbie.” Despite being an excellent student with high hopes for the future, Barbara was well known for her carefree and upbeat demeanor, which made it simple for people to get along with her. Most of her schoolmates liked her, and the program claimed that the girl enjoyed parties. She even hitchhiked to see her favorite bands play, and every evening she might be found inside a well-known tavern or eatery.
Barbara Blatnik’s Cause of Death: What happened to her?
Barbara was picked up by her pals from her home at around 6:30 p.m on December 19, 1987, and they went to a nearby bar. However, the celebration quickly moved to a friend’s home, and Barbara’s mother claimed that her daughter called her at around 10 to let her know that she would soon be returning home. Although her parents later observed that it was normal for her to stay over at a friend’s place, Barbara unexpectedly never came home that night.
The Cuyahoga Falls police were informed at the same time that a teenage girl whose naked body was discovered alongside a narrow access road that leads to Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. Officers found the victim struggled for her life before she was suffocated to death after performing a closer check. Later, an autopsy confirmed that the victim had been raped prior to being killed and that the death was caused by strangling. Despite the fact that the girl had no identification on her, the authorities discovered a ring on her finger that had the name Barbara Blatnik inscribed on it. Barbara’s family was totally shocked when the police walked up to them carrying the ring. Even the victim’s father admitted that he was unaware that his daughter was in danger until the police told him that she had passed away. However, because Barbara was a well-liked teen and had no known foes, her friends were unable to tip off investigators to a suspect. The majority of her family members were in total disbelief and had no concept why somebody would want to brutally attack such a happy person.
Who killed Barbara Blatnik?
Due to the lack of leads, the first Barbara murder investigation moved somewhat slowly. The adolescent wanted to spend the night at her boyfriend’s place, so Barbara’s pals said that they had dropped her off at Garfield Heights around midnight. Barbara’s boyfriend, on the other hand, insisted that he did not meet her that evening. When the police focused on Barbara’s body, they discovered that she had a handwritten number on her hand that was impossible to read. The hand was amputated by the medical examiners and taken to a lab for analysis, but it unexpectedly disappeared and hasn’t been seen since. The victim also had evidence of foreign male DNA under her fingernails, which showed that she had fought bravely for her life, according to the examiners. Law enforcement officers extracted and cultivated the sample, but they were never able to match it with anything in their database.
Because every lead led to a dead-end, the case went unsolved for years before Project Porchlight, a non-governmental organization, took it up roughly three decades after Barbara was murdered. The Porchlight Project, which raised over $6,000 to support new DNA tests and genetic genealogy, used the unsolved murder of Barbara Blatnik as its first case. James E. Zastawnik, 67, had been detained by the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department in connection with the murder of Barbara Blatnik. Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick and the Identifinders International team oversaw the genetic genealogy analysis. Donna Zanath, Barbara’s sister, also organized a fundraiser. Her sister said that the murder “broke” her family and that life hasn’t been the same ever since she passed away. She was murdered while her sister was getting ready to get married. Authorities were able to identify the perpetrator of the crime, so they decided not to waste any more time and detained James Zastawnik in May 2020. The police additionally accused the suspect of murder and aggravated murder on the basis of the DNA evidence.
The family was happy that an arrest was made, according to Donna Zanath. She had anticipated, however, that if Zastawnik entered a plea or if the case went to trial, they would have at last received clarifications on the issues they had been grappling with for more than three decades. Donna Zanath commended all parties involved in her sister’s case, such as the Porchlight Project, which joined up with police in August 2019 to assist with the investigation. She is interested in finding out what transpired, why her sister was assaulted and put on the side of the road, as well as what happened to her sister’s clothing, shoes, jacket, and pocketbook.
Interestingly, James has maintained his innocence ever since being detained, despite admitting to having sex with Barbara the night of Barbara’s murder. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the suspect’s $100,000 bond was ultimately decreased, and his trial was repeatedly postponed. James, however, had already been given a cancer diagnosis by this point, and on August 24, 2021, two months before the trial, he passed away from the illness while out on bail and residing with his brother. Unfortunately, Barbara’s murder trial was never held, and James’ passing left many unanswered.