Ryan Backmann – Founder & Executive Director
Born and raised in Jacksonville, FL, Ryan began his professional career working in the architectural field as a draftsman, moving his way up to project management before tragedy changed his career path. On October 10, 2009, Ryan’s father, Cliff Backmann, was shot and killed during a robbery in what remains one of Jacksonville’s 1,500+ unsolved murders.
After losing his dad, Ryan found a passion for helping others as a victim advocate, serving other families that had lost loved ones to homicide. That passion evolved as his dad’s case went cold and fell further from being solved. In the constant search for justice, Ryan began educating himself on all things cold case-related. He traveled to multiple states to learn about successful cold case practices. Ryan has traveled to Washington D.C. on numerous occasions, including a trip in 2014 to speak at the National Press Club about the unknown total number of unsolved homicides in Florida and around the country. Most recently, along with other cold case advocates, Ryan spoke with advisers to both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committees recommending mandatory reporting of unsolved murders to the FBI for inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report.
In 2015, Ryan started Project: Cold Case to advocate for cold cases while linking families, information, and law enforcement. Years of working closely with Florida lawmakers and establishing relationships with law enforcement was instrumental in establishing a Florida Cold Case Advisory Commission and a statewide Cold Case Database.
Ryan has served on the Duval County Child Death Review Team, Chair for the Jacksonville Mayor’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council, and completed the 2013 fall session of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy. Ryan is the only survivor/advocate on the Florida Sheriffs Association Cold Case Advisory Commission and a subject matter expert in cold case advocacy for the national SAKI TTA program. Ryan also serves as a board member for the Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association and as a Regional Coordinator for the Florida Crisis Response Team. Most recently, Ryan was invited to be a member of the Vidocq Society.
Ryan regularly provides training for advocates and law enforcement as well as informational presentations to schools, universities, and civic groups. Ryan has been recognized by numerous agencies, organizations, and publications for his work involving cold case advocacy.
Freda Washington-Perez – Lead Victim Advocate
Freda is a veteran of the Navy, which brought her to Jacksonville in 2004. For the past decade, she has aligned passions and focus on prospects toward community investment and advocating for victims’ rights. Her mission-focused disposition has allowed her the opportunity to bring awareness while offering perspective for those affected by crime.
A graduate of the University of North Florida, Freda majored in Criminal Justice. She has interned, volunteered, and worked at various local nonprofits, State Attorney’s Office, and Federal Probation. Freda has always looked for ways to elevate and balance her professional skills with targeted goals: knowledge through experience. It was during an internship with the local nonprofit Compassionate Families, which provided services to those impacted by homicide, that she first worked with Ryan and solidified her direction in advocacy. While working with families of homicide can be challenging, the impression of gratitude is mutually shared.
Freda enjoys nurturing her family, reading, and playing the cello during her time away from the office.
Sarah Mitchell – Victim Advocate
Sarah Mitchell was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. She moved to Florida to attend the University of North Florida, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2018. After finishing college, Sarah became a Florida Board Certified Child Welfare Case Manager and enjoyed engaging with the community around her.
Sarah has tremendous experience working with victims and brings a lot to Project: Cold Case.
Board of Directors
Rich is a private practice attorney that has worked on civil, criminal, appellate, juvenile, and international cases. He has spent time working with the State Attorney’s Office where he prosecuted cases ranging from misdemeanors to crimes involving the death penalty.
Rich is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association. He also serves on the Florida Bar Grievance Committee and was a past Board Chair of Jacksonville’s Mayor’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council.
LaTresa is a victim advocate in Jacksonville, Florida, with past experience as a Domestic Violence Advocate at Hubbard House and currently a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Support Specialist/Civilian Victim Advocate at Fleet and Family Support Center, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
LaTresa also serves on the Duval County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team and was recently awarded the Jacksonville Victim Advocate of the Year by the Mayor’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council.
Adam is a businessman and entrepreneur in Jacksonville, Florida. Adam is the Founder, Creative Director, and President of 5ivecanons Advertising Agency.
His vision and dedication have helped bring local and national acclaim to the agency for consumer engagement campaigns, TV spots, and geo-social/mobile check-in promotions.
Danny graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in 1996 with BSBA in Marketing and is currently enrolled in the Executive MBA Program at Georgia Tech. He is currently the CEO of AmeriQuote, Inc., a full-service insurance agency specializing in term life insurance and final expense, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Danny is a strong entrepreneur and business development expert in the interactive space. He enjoys executing on new ideas and technologies and specializes in idea generation, company creation, business development, operational strategies, online lead generation, call transfers, click-to-call, SMS, audience buying, demand generation, branding, affiliate marketing, technology innovation, and creative design.
Lorena Inclán joined the NBC6 & Telemundo51 team in February 2023. She’s originally from Miami and the proud daughter of Cuban immigrants.
Most recently, Lorena was the Director of Public Affairs for St. Johns County. However, prior to joining St. Johns County Government, Lorena spent more than eight years at CBS47 & FOX30 Action News Jax where she was weekend morning anchor and reporter. She also launched a cold case podcast and covered unsolved cases extensively during her time in Northeast Florida.
In 2021, the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists named Lorena the best reporter in a medium market for her work during the year 2020.
Lorena is thrilled to be back in her hometown to tell the stories of the community she grew up in and where her family still lives. If you have a story idea for Lorena, email Lorena.Inclan@nbcuni.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @LorenaInclanTV.
Daniel A. Janson
Dan has over 28 years of experience in law enforcement, including as supervisor of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Cold Case, Homicide, and Missing Persons Units. Dan has served as a member of the Florida Sheriff’s Association Cold Case Advisory Commission, was elected City Councilman At-Large for the City of Jacksonville Beach in 2020, and is also a member of the Police Council of Jacksonville.
Dan is an outgoing and systematic Public Safety Leader with extensive experience in creating processes and procedures that prepare organizations for the future by using state-of-the art technology. He has proven his expertise in enhancing and executing sound operational plans and decisions that provide calm and safe communities.
With 38 years of experience, Tim began his career in 1983 with the Jefferson County (IL) Sheriff’s Department and then the Mt. Vernon (IL) Police Department. In 1989, he left for a 28-year career as a Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Tim retired from NCIS in December 2016 to take a position as the Chief Investigator with the State Attorney’s Office Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida following the election of Melissa Nelson as the State Attorney.
With NCIS, Tim served at various state and overseas locations, including four assignments in the war zone, a tour aboard the USS John F. Kennedy as the special agent afloat, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), special operations, and a three-year assignment in cold case homicide. Supervisory assignments included tours at the Mayport Field Office, Contingency Response Field Office in Brunswick, GA, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director, Executive Assistant to the Director, and Special Agent in Charge for the Norfolk Field Office.
Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Southern Illinois University; a master’s degree in criminal justice from Liberty University; and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, session #276.
Vaniza Wilson is a University of North Florida alumna and currently works as an account executive at Enterprise. She has invested seven years into Enterprise where she excels with her commitment to customer service, readily identifying specific needs and working to benefit the company and the customer equally.
Previously, Vaniza worked as a victim advocate at the Jacksonville-based Compassionate Families, where she headed Youth Hope, the quarterly day camp for local youth impacted by the homicide of a loved one. These camps worked to connect young survivors with a community of peers dealing with similar complexities of traumatic grief.
On the side, Vaniza and her family run the Food Addictz on the Run food truck that offers delectable eats with exceptional service. Vaniza dedicates her effort to ensure that every job booked comes with a guarantee of refined service heavily woven with a commitment to meet where there is a need.
Helen Williams serves an important role on the Project: Cold Case Board of Directors. Her survivor perspective ensures that all decisions made by the board take into account the direct and indirect impact and/or optics from a viewpoint of the families we serve.
On October 17, 2017, Helen’s son, Dorrien Earl Mann, was carjacked in Orange Park, Florida. Dorrien was fatally shot during the encounter.
Initially believed to be a hit-and-run, based on Dorrien’s body being found on the side of the road in a residential neighborhood. It was television reporters that told Helen an autopsy had concluded that her son was actually shot in the head.
Almost 3 years later, two individuals were arrested, charged, and pled guilty in Dorrien’s murder. Since then Helen has been a regular attendee at PCC events, including support meetings as she offers advice and hope to families still looking for answers.
Sharon Lucius is PCC’s newest board member, though she’s been a passionate supporter and silent auction fundraiser for many years.
Sharon is degreed in Instructional Design and Management. She served in the United States Air Force before leaving for organizational development and training roles at a Sony/Time-Warner company and General Electric. She left GE to begin a 20-year career as an executive coach, meeting facilitator, and leadership development expert at her private firm, McBride&Lucius. One of Sharon’s retirement goals was to join our board. She brings expertise in team and board development, and a passion for fundraising.
Sharon and her husband Ken have lived in Neptune Beach for 20 years – representing the longest period of time they have lived anywhere. Thanks to Sharon’s family’s habit of moving nearly every year thanks to a set of nomadic parents, followed by a military career (Ken is retired from the USAF), and corporate moves, Sharon has lived in 3 countries, 11 US states, and (according the traveler’s app Been) travelled to 36 countries, 47/50 states, and 18% of the world.
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