Cold Case Investigations: A University Initiative

Despite technological advancements and improved methodologies in

forensic science and investigative practices, cold cases are a growing problem in the

United States. Although there has been a surge in interest in solving cold cases due to

advancements in technology, there has been very little research conducted on cold case

investigation methodology. Many agencies lack the personnel and resources to devote

adequate attention to cold cases. Federal dollars spent on cold case resolution in recent

years focused only on those cases that could benefit due to improvements in DNA

analysis techniques. The literature demonstrates that advances in other forensic

disciplines can provide answers in unsolved crimes. Additionally, it has been shown that

investigations often benefit simply from a case file review by a fresh set of eyes. This

research was conducted to develop best practices guidelines for a cold case program in a

collegiate setting in partnership with a law enforcement agency. Information from a

variety of sources was reviewed to develop guidelines that would address the needs of all

parties to such a collaboration. A manual entitled “Best Practices & Guidelines for the

Implementation and Management of a Cold Case Program in a Collegiate Setting” was

produced as a result of this research. This manual is intended for use by institutions of

higher learning with a focus on educating students for careers in the field of forensic

science and will assist instructors in implementing an upper level course for students to

engage in the review and analysis of case files pertaining to unsolved crimes designated

as cold cases by the collaborating law enforcement agency. Such a course is ideally

suited to graduate students and as an in-house practicum for seniors.

Amber L. Fortney – 2019