Organizing and Funding Unsolved Murder Investigation

Key Findings from the National Law Enforcement Cold Case Survey

A survey created by law enforcement agents revealed interesting information about the way of organizing and funding cold case investigations. A significant find was the fact that most of the cases are opportunistic. Only a small part of agencies who responded have indicated that they had a governing protocol that determined the initiation of opening an unsolved case. Only one in ten respondents admit that they have worked for agencies that had dedicated investigators, and only 7% of them had a special unit responsible for such investigations.

The easier way for determining if a cold case is suitable for being re-opened is not assessing each of them and deciding, but instead waiting for inside information relevant to the crime. Usually, investigators wait for someone to come forward with new intel, and usually it is people who are motivated by a new charge or have a score to settle.

At a certain point, a unit will go through the files and do a systematic search of the cases that have the highest possibility for being opened and resolved. Federal funding often helps to increase the chances of identifying and clearing unsolved cases with more success. It offers advantageous features such as grants for laboratory testing of DNA material which have been provided by some jurisdictions.

Comprehensive screening is becoming more and more common. The survey indicated that only one out of five agencies provides funding for cold case investigation that is out of their regularly specified budget. This is why federal funding is so essential and of significant importance to expanding and improving the organization of such activities.

Sadly, the biggest part of unsolved crimes consists of homicides. Missing people, sex offenses, robberies and other crimes are usually much less in numbers than unsolved murder cases.