Since 1980 the USA has accumulated over 250,000 unsolved homicides while the city of Memphis, TN has over 1,800. Various studies and the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) Best Practices guide for Cold Cases has determined that we are in a “Cold Case Crisis”.
According to the FBI crime data for 2017, the homicide clearance or solve rate was about 61%, leaving four out of every ten homicides unsolved. And in 2016 the solve rate figure dropped to its lowest of 59.4%. On average this adds 6 – 7,000 unsolved cases to the cold case mix each year.
The national consensus of cold case experts, who were part of the NIJ Cold Case Working Group and contributed to the best practices guide, have confirmed that the forming of dedicated cold case units will reduce not only the number of cold cases, but will help increase the solving of new homicides as they are reported.
Additionally, if the proposed process with a solid commitment and sustainment of cold case investigations are integrated into the system, we will reduce violent crime, regain public confidence in our criminal justice system, solve more cases and provide information to the forgotten victims, the surviving families. It’s not how much it will cost us to have these units in place, but rather what it will cost us if we don’t!
This podcast, “Surviving Cold Cases with Dr. Jim”, will address the cold case issue, how we got here and what we can do about it. Through weekly episodes it will discuss the problem and the nuances of conducting cold case investigations. The listener will hear about some of the many steps involved in a homicide/cold case investigation, revealing the reality of the situation and what we can do about it to make our communities a safer place to live and work.
Jim Adcock, PhD, #SolveColdCases
cold cases, unsolved homicides, homicides, forensic science, investigation, genealogy, surviving victims, homicide family’s matter
Cold Case Protocol: the design, operation and management of a cold case unit.
This protocol for detectives on how to design, operate and manage a cold case unit was written by Dr. Jim and is intended to serve as a supplement to the NIJ Best Practices guide that was discussed in a previous podcast. It is here that the steps needed to put in place, operate and manage a sound dedicated cold case unit are described. Phase I the design of the unit; Phase II the operational aspects of how the cold case unit should function; and Phase III the managerial responsibilities of the supervisor for the unit.
In this episode Dr. Jim will discuss the issues and concerns surrounding uncertain or equivocal deaths where the manner of death may be in question. The most common one seen surround the cases where a suicide comes under scrutiny and families believe it is a homicide. Other possibilities exist with Homicide versus Accident or Suicide versus Accident.
In a general sense Dr. Jim will describe how some of these cases, at least by perception if not fact, become questionable and how they can cause us more time and money then if due diligence had been seen from the onset of the investigation. As a side note, one of the cases briefly discussed is the Sherman case come from Toronto, CA and while Dr. Jim is not an expert on that case, he is providing information gleaned from public sources where the truth of the matter still remains to be determined. Nevertheless, an interesting death case where it is alleged that the initial label was a Murder/Suicide and now is a double Murder, still unsolved. As part of this Dr. Jim is including an audio clip from a news conference that the family’s lawyer addressed about his findings in his investigation. This information came from CTV News in Canada and the direct link to this news briefing can be found at https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1524442&jwsource=em.
“The Forgotten Victims” (The surviving families of homicides and cold cases).
Dan Levey, an expert victim’s advocate, delves into the many issues the surviving families go through as they continue to live their lives after a tragic death from violence.
The Behavioral Aspects of Cold Case Investigations.
Dr. Adcock will be conducting a follow-up to the previous episodes with Steve Chancellor on Victimology and Gregg McCrary’s on behavioral issues and concerns. The purpose of this is elaborate further on both topics and provide a couple of case examples to illustrate one element of the behavioral, interpreting the organized versus the disorganized crime scene.
Sexual Assaults – the Other Cold Case that we don’t always talk about.
In this episode, Sexual Assault expert and former Sexual Assault Cold Case Unit leader, Jim Markley, will discuss the nuances of the sexual assault problem and how the investigative process will vary from cold case homicides.
Steve Chancellor describes the many characteristics of a victimology assessment that can help the investigator identify the perpetrator.