New lab testing could revive CT cold case after 16 years

Photo of Tara O'Neill
Edward “Little Man” Bell was fatally wounded in a shooting in Hartford on May 6, 2005. Thursday, May 6, 2021, marks 16 years since his death.

Edward “Little Man” Bell was fatally wounded in a shooting in Hartford on May 6, 2005. Thursday, May 6, 2021, marks 16 years since his death.

State of Connecticut / Contributed

HARTFORD — For more than a decade, law enforcement officers have hunted for Edward Bell’s killer. Now, 16 years after his death, investigators are hoping potential new laboratory testing could revive the case and give police the answers they need to solve it.

A $50,000 reward remains uncollected in connection with information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fatal shooting of Bell, who also went by the nickname “Little Man,” on May 6, 2005.

It was around 11:20 p.m. that night when Bell was shot multiple times on George Street. Medics rushed the 34-year-old to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead from gunshot wounds.

Thursday marked the 16th anniversary of his death.

The investigation is deemed a cold case, needing new information to push things forward.

“The Edward Bell case is on a list of cases for possible re-examination at the lab for the familial genetic genealogy grant,” Lt. Aaron Boisvert said.

In cases of forensic investigations, genetic genealogy can be used to identify the remains of an individual by tying DNA to a family with a missing person, or to point to the likely identity of a perpetrator, according to Parabon Naolabs, one of the first companies nationwide to work with law enforcement in investigative genetic genealogy.

If the evidence in the Bell case is tested and comes back with a hit, it could lead investigators to a suspect after all these years.

“Like all cold cases, these cases are never closed and sometimes all it takes is one new piece of information to crack a cold case wide open,” Boisvert said.

He said Bell’s case remains under investigation by the Chief State’s Attorney’s Cold Case Unit.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney John F. Fahey, head of the Cold Case Unit, said the agency applied for the grant with the Department of Justice last fall.

“Our focus was to utilize money on Hartford-specific homicides and missing person cases to try to see if there was any way to re-test evidence and then utilize genetic genealogy and get some persons of interest,” Fahey said.

The three-year grant, for about $470,000, is being split between Hartford police, the state forensic lab and the Cold Case Unit, Fahey said, adding that a lot of those funds are going toward re-testing evidence in pending cases where possible.

He said two Hartford detectives have been scouring through cold cases and zeroed in on about 50 to 60 cases that could benefit from new testing. Fahey said Bell’s case was among those selected.

He said investigators work with forensic genealogists to try to analyze the DNA, like an unknown sample from the Bell homicide, for example. From there, a family tree can be built, showing possible DNA connections to the sample that has been tested that might not have been available at the time of the crime.

Fahey said even though a lot of cases have been identified by the two Hartford detectives, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to use the funds for all of those cases. He said cases will be prioritized based on what the lab says can be re-tested.

Bell was born in Hartford and remained a resident until his death, according to his obituary.

He loved cars and was an avid sports fan with a particular love of basketball. Bell left behind two sons and a daughter, two sisters, and several nieces, nephews and other relatives.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Cold Case Unit’s tip line at 860-548-0606 or toll-free at 866-623-8058. The unit can be reached by email at