When does an unsolved case become a "cold case"?
Typically, all sex assault cases are worked by the original assigned detective until all known leads have been exhausted and no additional leads are known. After one year, if the case remains unsolved and has no viable or unexplored investigative leads; it is categorized as a cold case. If the original investigator remains in the Sex Crimes 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 sexual assault cases investigated?
Currently the Adult Sex Crimes Cold Case Squad is working on reviewing unsolved sexual assault 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 with all available internal and external investigative resources 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 Adult Sex Crimes 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, evidence, and the application of new technology pertaining to the evidence. During the review process a solvability factor is determined for each case. After a systematic review of the case(s) has been completed, the solvability factors determine which case(s) 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 unsolved 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 result in an arrest on any sexual assault 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 my case?
The most important thing you can do is keep your assigned investigator updated with current contact information. We have also found that people who have potential information on a case may be reluctant to contact the police. So, we encourage victims, family members or others to pass any information on to us even if you think we already have the information. Also, we ask for your patience because there are thousands of cold cases and limited resources available.