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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Man Arrested for Cold Case 1987 Murder of Barbara Blatnik Has Died of Cancer While Awaiting Trial

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2021 at 4:03 PM

James Zastawnik - CUYAHOGA FALLS PD
  • Cuyahoga Falls PD
  • James Zastawnik

James Zastawnik, the Cuyahoga Falls man who last year was arrested in connection with the three-decade-old cold case murder of Barbara Blatnik, has died of cancer while awaiting trial, according to the Porchlight Project, the nonprofit that helped fund DNA testing that helped crack the case.

Blatnik was just 17 when her nude, strangled body was found near Blossom Music Center, some 30 minutes away from her home, five days before Christmas in December 1987.



The three-decade-old cold case had received renewed interest in the past year after the Porchlight Project paid for DNA testing of samples taken from under Blatnik's fingernails and forensic genealogy of the results by Colleen Fitzpatrick and her team at Identifinders International.

Authorities and her family had been relieved to finally have discovered a suspect.

“It is great to see justice done for Barbara Blatnik. The detectives who worked on this over the years never gave up on finding the killer especially Detective Tlumac. This is also a great example of cooperation between law enforcement, the Porchlight Project, Identifinders and BCI coming together to creatively look for a solution to resolving a brutal murder.” Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis said in a statement last year.

Barbara's sister Donna has led the charge to keep the case active throughout the years and remember her beloved Barbie, who was set to be the maid of honor at her wedding before her death. A tattoo on Donna's arm reads Tu me mangues. As she told Porchlight Project founder James Renner last year, "The French have a different way of feeling loss. They don’t say 'I miss you.' They say, 'You are missing from me.'”

She can never bring Barbara back to make her whole, but last year she got a little bit of closure that she's been waiting for.

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