HILLSBORO, Ore- On Wednesday, October 3, the Washington County Board of Commissioners voted to accept $533,200 in grant funds from the United States Department of Justice. The grant, “Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA,” will support continued efforts to prosecute cold cases with DNA evidence. This is a competitive grant award intended to increase the capacity of state and local prosecution offices to address violent crime cold cases.

The District Attorney's Office was awarded a similar grant in 2020 enabling the creation of the Cold Case Unit. The Cold Case Unit is operated in partnership with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. That initial funding helped investigators identify a suspect in a 1988 homicide. The case remained unsolved until this office used DNA evidence to identify Robert Elmer Atrops as the suspect. Mr. Atrops has since been arrested and charged with Murder in the Second Degree in the death of his estranged wife. 

“We are very pleased to be awarded another federal grant which allows us to pursue justice for victims of crimes, no matter how much time has passed,” said District Attorney Kevin Barton.  “The Washington County DA’s Office Cold Case Unit has shown incredible progress in the last three years, and we look forward to working to solve more cases with this additional grant funding.”

In 2020, this office conducted a review of all cold case homicides to identify their potential to be prosecuted with additional investigation. Of the 43 identified cases dating back to 1968, at least 14 contain DNA evidence. Additionally, there are potentially hundreds of unsolved sexual assault cases over the decades that contain DNA evidence. This office is confident many of these crimes can be solved. 

This grant award will allow this office to continue working on resolving cold case homicides by funding two part-time investigators, one part-time forensic consultant, and other associated expenses through September 30, 2026. This grant also supports the unit’s work to inventory and investigate additional cold case violent crimes including sexual assaults. We are hopeful that through these efforts, victims will receive the justice they deserve, the community at large can receive a sense of resolution and those who committed these crimes can finally be held responsible. 

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
October 04, 2023