With more than 30 known unsolved murder, questionable death and missing person cases within a 25-mile radius, it’s obvious the Upper Ohio Valley has a problem that cannot be ignored any longer.
Local law enforcement agencies are aware of the situation but, the truth is, they are over burdened working current crime cases. Limited manpower and financial resources put cold cases on the back burner.
Cold cases are reviewed periodically when a new lead develops but there is nobody getting out of bed every morning to work them. With the exception of some big cities, there are no full-time cold case investigators in Ohio or West Virginia.
The question is: What are we going to do about it?
OVcoldcases.com is working to assemble an interstate, multi-jurisdictional Cold Case Task Force comprised of reputable retired police officers from both sides of the Ohio River volunteering their time to do some legwork exclusively on cold cases. We believe experienced officers from different counties or jurisdictions may see something the original investigators missed. They may have new ideas not thought of before.
The task force will work in harmony with current law enforcement agencies. County prosecutors will be involved to sort out logistics of how the unit will operate. There must be a protocol in place concerning the questioning of suspects, witnesses or informants; the handling evidence and other procedures that would come into play if the case goes to court.
There are other task force units like this around the country and we are looking at some of those as a model to be used here in the Ohio Valley. If all else fails, we will develop a model of our own.
Once the unit is formed, we can lobby local, state and federal elected officials for grant money or other funding exclusively for cold cases. The U.S. Department of Justice has funded cold case squads in other jurisdictions. We will shake every political tree until some cold case money falls out. We are also looking into finding local business leaders interested in creating a reward fund.
Our mission has always been to shine light onto these unsolved cases with a hope of giving voice to the silenced lips of the victims. Experience shows us that there can never be closure for surviving loved ones — but there can be justice.
These victims may be gone but they are not forgotten; and their surviving loved ones are not forgotten.
OVcoldcases.com stands ready as a conduit to feed information from the public to the Cold Case Task Force.
We can do this.