The Cold Case Lottery



It seems that more people than I can count have told me that the chances of my friend’s cold case being solved are next to nil.  I know they’re right, but people play the lottery.  Maybe I am hoping against hope as the saying goes.

Here’s the run-down on the state of cold cases in our country according to Cold Case Investigations: An Analysis of Current Practices and Factors Associated with Successful Outcomes, written by Robert C. Davis, Carl J. Jensen, and Karin Kitchens for the Department of Justice:

Cold cases are among the most difficult investigators confront. For a variety of reasons—lack of evidence, strained resources, ineffective investigation—a case becomes cold when initial efforts to solve it prove futile. In recent years, rates of clearance for all types of crime have plummeted. Lackluster rates of solution, combined with new technologies such as DNA and automated fingerprint matching, have prompted the police to form ―cold case units, designed to address cases that stubbornly resist solution.

Thankfully, the San Francisco Police Department formed a cold case unit recently, but it’s sadly understaffed.  And it seems the more recent, high profile cases — dating from the year 2000 — are their priority. And more than 500 unsolved homicides have landed in their laps since then.  The SFPD cold case unit has its hands full in other words.

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