How To Find Old Homicide Cold Cases

A cold case folder with a "SOLVED" stamp on it.

Searching for cold homicide cases can be a daunting task, but there are many ways to make it easier and more efficient. In this article, we will explore six easy ways to look up old homicide cold cases, such as using public record databases, the national archives, contacting statewide law enforcement agencies, utilizing online resources and investigative services, and more. We’ll also discuss how to use these techniques in the most effective way possible so that you can get the information you need quickly and accurately. So if you’re looking for some help finding an old criminal case of murder or manslaughter, keep reading.

How To Find Old Homicide Cases

Here are six methods for tracking down long-forgotten homicide cases:

#1. Perform A Basic Online Search

Performing a basic online search can help find cold homicide cases by using search engines such as Google or Bing to search for information related to the case. Here are some steps you can follow to conduct a basic online search for all types of homicide cases:

  1. Open a web browser and go to a search engine such as Google or Bing.
  2. In the search bar, enter relevant keywords related to the homicide case you are trying to find. This could include the homicide victim’s name, the location of the crime, or any other relevant details you may have about the case.
  3. Press enter or click the search button to see the search results.
  4. Review the search results to see if there is any information about the homicide case you are trying to find. You may find news articles, forum posts, or other types of information that can help you learn more about the case.
  5. If you don’t find any information through a basic search, you can try using more specific keywords or expanding your search to include other search engines or databases.

A cold case folder surrounded by other evidence including photographs and rubber gloves.

#2. Search Newspaper Archives

Searching historical newspaper archives can be a useful way to find information about old homicide cases, as many newspapers maintain extensive archives of their articles and may have published extensive coverage of the case at the time it occurred. To search newspaper archives for information about a cold homicide case, you will first need to identify the location where the homicide took place. This will help you determine which newspaper(s) may have covered the case.

Once you have identified the appropriate newspaper(s), you can visit their website and use the search function to search for relevant keywords related to the case. You may need to use a combination of different keywords to get the most relevant results. When reviewing the search results, be sure to look for articles that provide detailed information about the case, including the victim’s name, the location of the crime, and any other relevant details.

If you don’t find any information about the case in the newspaper’s online archives, you may want to consider contacting the newspaper to see if they have additional information about the case or if they can help you access their physical archives. You may also want to consider searching other newspaper archives or contacting other organizations that may have more detailed information about the case.

#3. Search State Law Enforcement Websites

State law enforcement websites can be a great resource for finding information about old homicide cases. These sites typically contain detailed records of all the homicides that have occurred in the state, including details such as case number, date of occurrence, and other relevant information. To find this information, you will need to locate the state’s law enforcement website and use the search function to look for information about the homicide case you are trying to find.

Once you have found the relevant details on the site, be sure to read through all of the information carefully and make a note of any additional details that may be useful in your search. You may also want to contact an official from the state’s law enforcement agency if you are unable to find the information you need.

#4. Contact The District Attorney’s Office

Another way to find information about old homicide cases is to contact the district attorney’s office for the county where the crime occurred. Most district attorneys will keep detailed records of all homicides that have occurred in their jurisdiction and can provide important information about how to access those records. To contact a district attorney, you will need to search online or call the number for their office and make a request for information related to the homicide case you are interested in.

Most district attorneys will be willing to provide some basic information about how you can access records related to the case, though they may require you to submit an official request before they release any additional details. Be sure to explain clearly why you are looking for this information when contacting the district attorney’s office.

#5. Talk To Locals In The Area

Talking to locals in the area is a great way to find out information about old homicide cases. It is important to note that it can be difficult to get people to open up, so it’s essential to come across as trustworthy and respectful. Start by introducing yourself. Explain why you are asking these questions and how their answers can help you. People who live in the community where the homicide took place may have some valuable insights. They may know how to access public records or can even provide you with detailed accounts of what happened. Additionally, contact local law enforcement agencies and police departments, as they may be able to provide information about how homicides were investigated at the time.

#6. File A Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that allows citizens to access previously unavailable records held by the government. In order to make a FOIA request, you will need to provide detailed information about the homicide case in question and explain how it relates to your research. Once your request has been approved, you will typically have access to a wide range of records related to the case.

A cold case folder with a gun and bullet evidence.

Can The Public Access Cold Case Files?

In most cases, the public does not have access to cold case files due to privacy concerns. However, in some states, such as California and Texas, it is possible for members of the public to access information related to unsolved homicide or murder cases. In these states, you can contact law enforcement agencies or district attorneys for information about how to access these files. Additionally, some states may have online databases where you can search for cold cases and request access to court records. Finally, there are also investigative services that specialize in locating information related to unsolved murders or homicides and providing assistance to the family members of victims.

How To Properly Investigate A Homicide Case

If you think you may have uncovered a cold case and want to investigate it further, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to remember that solving a homicide case is a complex criminal justice process. You will need to approach the case with patience, diligence, and respect for those involved. Additionally, you should always remain objective and non-judgmental. It’s also important to be aware of how the law works in your state and how you can access public records related to the case. Finally, it’s a good idea to consult with experts who specialize in investigating old homicide cases for advice on how to proceed.

By following these tips and utilizing the resources available, you can gain access to old homicide cases and work towards solving them. With a bit of research and effort, you can help bring justice to victims and their families.

Police Investigations vs. Private Citizen Investigations

Police officers and private citizens have different levels of authority when it comes to enforcing laws and investigating crimes. Police officers are sworn law enforcement officials who have the authority to investigate crimes, make arrests, and use force when necessary. Private citizens, on the other hand, do not have the same level of authority.

One key difference between police and private citizens is that police officers have the power to enter private property and search for evidence without a warrant in certain circumstances. Private citizens do not have this authority and must obtain a warrant or have the owner’s consent in order to enter and search private property.

Private citizens also do not have the authority to wiretap electronic devices or intercept communications. This is a serious crime known as “wiretapping,” and it is typically only authorized by law enforcement officials with a court order.

Private citizens also do not have the authority to impersonate a police officer. Impersonating a police officer is a crime in many jurisdictions, and it can carry serious consequences.

There are other actions that private citizens are not allowed to do that are reserved for law enforcement officers. For example, private citizens cannot make arrests or use force to detain someone. They also cannot carry a firearm or other weapon in most cases unless they have a valid permit.

It is important to understand the limits of private citizen authority and to respect the role of law enforcement officers in maintaining public safety. Private citizens can play a valuable role in assisting law enforcement, but they should not attempt to take on the responsibilities of a police officer.

How The Public Can Help Solve Cold Homicide Cases

The public can play a significant role in assisting law enforcement officials in solving cold homicide cases. Members of the public can report tips or provide new evidence related to a case, as well as help spread information about unsolved homicides and how to access records. Many law enforcement agencies now have websites where members of the public can search for cold cases and submit anonymous tips about unsolved homicides.

The public can also help to raise awareness about unsolved homicide cases and how to access records related to them. Law enforcement agencies often host events that provide information on how to search for old homicide records, how to submit tips, and how the public can assist with investigations.

Finally, members of the public can also provide emotional and financial support to victims’ families. Cold cases often take years to resolve, and the families and loved ones of victims are often left with no closure or peace. Raising funds for victims’ families through nonprofit organizations can have a huge impact on their lives, as it can help them pay bills or hire private investigators who specialize in cold case investigations.

The Bottom Line

Finding cold homicide cases can be a daunting task, but with the right resources and techniques, it doesn’t have to be. By leveraging public record databases, contacting law enforcement agencies, utilizing online resources and investigative services, as well as other methods discussed in this article, you can gain access to information about these cases more easily. Furthermore, members of the public are encouraged to report tips to their local crime stoppers hotline or provide new evidence related to unsolved homicides, while also providing emotional and financial support for the victims’ families. With everyone’s help, we can work towards solving old homicide cases and bringing justice to those who deserve it most.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How many unsolved cold cases are there?

It is safe to say that there are many unsolved cold cases around the world. In the United States, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) maintains a database of open cases, including unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. As of 2021, the NCIC database contained over 260,000 open homicide cases and over 87,000 open missing person cases.

Some estimates put the number of unsolved homicides in the United States at over 200,000, although it is difficult to accurately quantify this number due to the varying definitions of what constitutes a “cold case” and the fact that some cases may have been solved but have not been formally closed.

What is the oldest cold case in the United States?

It is difficult to determine the oldest cold case in the United States, as definitions of what constitutes a “cold case” and how cases are classified can vary by jurisdiction. Additionally, the age of a cold case can change over time as new information or leads come to light or as cases are solved.

That being said, some of the oldest cold cases in the United States include:

  1. The Axeman of New Orleans: Between 1918 and 1919, a serial killer known as the Axeman of New Orleans terrorized the city, murdering at least six people and attempting to murder several others. Despite a massive manhunt, the killer was never identified or caught, and the case remains unsolved.
  2. The Black Dahlia murder: In 1947, the mutilated body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short was found in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. The case, which became known as the Black Dahlia murder, received widespread media attention and was the subject of numerous investigations, but the killer was never identified, and the case remains unsolved.
  3. The Zodiac killer: Between 1968 and 1969, the Zodiac killer terrorized Northern California, killing at least five people and taunting authorities with letters and clues. Despite a massive manhunt and numerous investigations, the killer was never identified, and the case remains unsolved.

It is worth noting that these are just a few examples of some of the oldest cold cases in the United States, and there are many other cases that are also considered “old” by law enforcement standards.

How long do cold case investigations remain open?

The length of time that cold case investigations remain open can vary widely depending on the specific case and the jurisdiction in which it took place. Some cold case investigations may remain open indefinitely, while others may be closed after a certain amount of time has passed without any new leads or developments.

What happens if a cold case is never solved?

If a cold case is never solved, it means that the crime remains unsolved and the perpetrator has not been brought to justice. This can be a frustrating and disappointing outcome for the victim’s family and the community affected by the crime.

In some cases, cold cases may be formally closed if it appears that it is unlikely that the case will be solved. This may happen if all leads have been exhausted and there is no new evidence or information to pursue. However, even if a cold case is formally closed, it may be reopened if new evidence or leads come to light.