Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Cold Case Homicide Squad?

The Homicide Cold Case squad consists of six detectives and one sergeant. In 2008, the squad was increased to the current staffing level to increase our effectiveness.  We have been working diligently to review every homicide case to: (a) determine the true status of the case, and (b) determine if new fingerprint, ballistics or DNA technology can be applied to the unsolved cases. Unfortunately, there are thousands of unsolved cases, and each case requires time.

As we proceed through this review process, we assign a solvability factor to the case. The solvability factor helps us determine which cases to focus on due to our limited resources once the initial reviews are completed.

We also regularly field calls that present new information or leads on cases. When new information comes in, we strive to immediately work the leads as far as the information takes us. We are proud of the fact that in 2011, ten of our cold cases resulted in arrests.

Everyone on the Cold Case Squad is committed to the highest level of professionalism and works diligently to attempt to bring each case to a successful resolution. Every Cold Case Homicide is important to us.

We never forget that each victim was a parent, spouse, sibling, friend, and loved one. We will always work each case as hard as we can to bring it to a conclusion. 

When does an unsolved case become a "cold case?"

Typically, all cases are worked by the original assigned detective until all known leads have been exhausted and no additional leads are known. After one year, the case is reviewed by a Homicide supervisor, and it is categorized as a cold case or not a cold case depending on whether there are viable leads. If the original investigator remains in the Homicide Unit, he/she may retain the case. If the original investigator leaves the Unit, then the case is transferred to the Cold Case Squad.  

How are unsolved homicide investigations assigned?

Currently the Cold Case Squad is working on reviewing all unsolved homicide investigations with the help of grant funding. The goal of the review is to determine the solvability of each case and to determine if new technology such as DNA or fingerprint advancement could be applied to the case to develop new leads. We also regularly receive tips on new leads from a variety of sources. The squad works in a cooperative manner so that each new lead can be investigated as quickly as possible. We have found that at the current time this is the most efficient way to be sure that any new lead gets investigated in a timely manner.

How do cases get reviewed?

The Cold Case Squad is currently doing a systematic review of all cold cases so that every case gets reviewed. This process is a slow and tedious process due to the shear volume of cases that continually evolve. The review involves examining of reports, photographs, autopsy reports, evidence, and the application of new technology pertaining to the evidence. During the review process a solvability factor is determined for each case. After the systematic review of all the cases has been completed, the solvability factors determine which cases to work on first. As the review process continues, we will still follow up on any new leads or newly-developed forensic evidence that comes in so that no opportunity to solve a case will be lost.

Can a reward be offered in my loved-one's case?

We are very fortunate in the Phoenix metropolitan area to have a very active and well organized Silent Witness Program. Silent Witness offers a $1000 reward for information that results in an arrest on any homicide case if the information is provided through the Silent Witness Program. Silent Witness also has a system set up for families or other interested parties to increase the amount of the reward offered for a particular case. See the Silent Witness Website for details.

What else can be done to help solve our loved-one's case?

The most important thing you can do is keep your eyes and ears open. We have found that families are often contacted by people who have information but are reluctant to contact the police. Please pass the information on to us even if you think we already have the information. Also, we ask for your patience because there are thousands of cases and limited resources available.