LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — He's not a detective or a police officer. Justin Woo is opening his checkbook and helping Las Vegas Metropolitan Police with cold cases, unsolved for decades.
13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean introduces you to the man who's made keeping the community safe his ultimate goal.
"We have a lot of cases lined up, and hopefully we will have a lot of solves for the LV Metro PD in the future," Woo said.
He recently made headlines for his generous donation which covered the cost of DNA testing and helped Metro Police solve the 1979 murder case of 16-year-old Kim Bryant.
More than 40 years after her death, her family finally has some closure.
"Being able to see the family and the appreciation that they have that this kind of has a resolution is a nice feeling," Woo said.
#ICYMI Our Homicide detectives, DNA technology, @OthramTech, and @justinwoo help solve the 42-year-old murder mystery of #KimBryant
📲More details: https://t.co/gZqpJq6obp https://t.co/zRNkrORpjT pic.twitter.com/xCkj5kE376
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) November 30, 2021
A transplant from Los Angeles, this entrepreneur has made a major impact on the lives of so many Las Vegas families. After moving here six years ago, Woo formed Vegas Helps, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting those in need.
"What do you get out of this?" Kean asked Woo.
"So when I started the charity, one of the things that I saw was, I went to a lot of big galas. We were giving a lot of money to different charities. You don't really see the connection with the people," Woo said.
So, Vegas Helps is dedicated to going beyond writing a check and provides physical donations, from groceries to even a car for someone in need.
But then Woo took it one step further. He took a personal interest in the latest advancements of forensic DNA testing and contacted Texas-based lab, Othram, about donating.
"But the one condition would be, it would have to be in Las Vegas. So I think it was July 2020, we started our first case. That was the Stephanie Isaacson case," Woo said. "Seven months later, Las Vegas Metro Police announced that they had solved the case."
"What interests him is making Vegas a safer place and trying to do good for his community, trying to solve some of the cases there," said Kristen Mittelman with Othram.
She says Woo is the reason her company started working with Metro police in the first place.
VEGAS JUSTICE LEAGUE
"We actually didn't talk to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department until afterwards about how many cold cases they had and the lack of funding," Mittelman said. "It sparked a partnership between us, and we found out that they have many more cases."
Now, Woo has formed the Vegas Justice League, an organization offering continuing support and funding to Metro police.
Solve of one case leads to the solve of another! 38 Year old #coldcase of Diana Hanson is solved using matching DNA evidence of the Kim Bryant case. 🧬 #vegasjusticeleague #lasvegas #lvmpd #dianahanson #forensicscience #vegascommunity #VJL pic.twitter.com/wdlD8jKm6s
— Vegas Justice League (@LVJusticeLeague) December 7, 2021
"Talk a little bit about the financial aspect of this, how it really does help out to solve these cases," Kean asked Woo.
"Each cold case that we attempt to solve is a $5,000 contribution," he explained.
He says the Vegas Justice League is already helping with eight new cases. He's looking for community leaders and valley residents looking to help contribute, in hopes of making a positive impact.
"I would like to see us knock all the cases out. I think that's a very tangible thing that we could do in the long term," Woo said. "And we'd love to have you, and would love to have you help us solve cold cases in Las Vegas."