All victims should have a voice. While they lived thru their untimely death their lives were important to someone. Someone loved and cared for them. Cold case victims usually suffer a traumatic death in which they leave a story behind. But not cold case stories have an ending. Until the ending is written and we can close that chapter in the victim’s life as well as their families and loved ones we have to continue to search for answers for closure. Victim’s do not deserve a restless death they deserve closure so they can rest in peace.
What is a cold case?
The National Institute of Justice defines a cold case as any case whose probative investigation has been exhausted. This can be as early as a few months.
Popularity and television drama has increased public visibility of family members creating attention that continues the focus on cold cases.
Advances in DNA technology allows investigators to take a fresh look at cold cases. This DNA technology also allows for the creation of a combined DNA index system (CODIS). Established and managed by the FBI CODIS allows DNA profiles to be searched against other DNA profiles through local, state and national levels. The CODIS index contains profiles of offenders in all 50 states. It also contains missing persons and arrestees (NIJ, n.d.).
CODIS is the combined DNA index system of computer technology and forensic science. It is used as a tool for linking crimes. CODIS enables local, state, and federal law forensic laboratories to exchange DNA profiles electronically linking serial violent crimes to each other known as offenders. Missing persons and unidentified individuals are also included in the DNA system of CODIS.
CODIS began in 1990 serving 14 states. It was adopted in 1994 into law and became the DNA Identification Act forming the National DNA Index System (NDIS) for law enforcement purposes. Currently, more than 190 public law enforcement laboratories in over 50 countries use CODIS software for their own database initiatives (FBI, n.d.).
Public Websites for Cold Cases
Popularity and television drama has increased the visibility of cold cases more individuals want to become involved. Can you help solve a cold case or spot and undetected serial killer?
There are websites available for public access that includes data about homicides from local, state, and federal governments including the FBI.
Click the links for more information.
Murder Accountability Project – Includes two major FBI databases. The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the Supplemental Homicide Report (SHR).
NameUs -NamUs helps resolve missing and unidentified person cases throughout the United States.
Project Cold Case – Consist of unsolved homicides in Florida. It was founded by Ryan Backman after the murder of his father in 2009.
The Doe Network – The Doe Network is a 100% volunteer organization devoted to assisting investigating agencies in bringing closure to national and international cold cases concerning Missing & Unidentified Persons.
Polly Klaas Foundation: Unsolved Missing Children Homicides – “The Polly Klaas® Foundation is a national nonprofit that helps find missing children, prevents children from going missing in the first place, and works with policymakers to pass laws like Amber Alert that help protect kids.”
The Worlds Most Wanted – This website offers information about fugitives and unsolved crimes across the country.
Websleuths – Websleuths is an internet community that concerns itself mainly with crime and missing persons.
Reopening A Cold Case
If the status of a cold case changes included being reopened to resume the investigation of the crime or the crime lab has notified law enforcement of a “hit”. If there is written notification of the victim the investigator shall determine whether the victim requested notification. If there is a request of the victim notification, notice shall be provided unless it would reasonably interfere with the investigation (National Center for Victims of Crimes, 2011).
FBI, (n.d.). Frequently asked questions on CODIS and NDIS). Retrieved from http://nij.gov/journals.260/what-is-cold-case/aspx
National Center for Victims of Crime. (2011). Sample policy of notification for victims of crime. Retrieved from http://victimsofcrime.org/docs/default-source/dna-resource-center-documents/cold-case-victim-notification-policy.pdf?sfvrsn=2
NIJ (n.d.). What is a cold case? Retrieved from https://nij.gov/journals/260/pages/what-is-cold-case.aspx