Recent years have seen investigators adopt a variety of new tools including social media-driven public investments, time and new perspectives on evidence to solve decades-old cases.
Sarah Stein, cold case analyst, stated that DNA solves 25% of cold cases. These cases can be solved with other investigative tools like behavioral crime analysis, evidence and information collection, as well as public participation.
Massachusetts’ sonar technology was able to locate Judy Chartier’s car, which is still in existence in Concord River. Jane Britton’s case was also discovered.
“In the past, we had to have a solid DNA sample that was not spoiled or damaged in any way to get a good idea of who this person is. Shirley McCollum, director at the Cold Case Investigation Institute, stated that this is no longer true.
She explained that advances in DNA technology have allowed investigators extract samples from objects like bullet casings and ropes. Stein explained that some other techniques can draw synthetic sketches from unidentified DNA samples and then be used for evoking someone’s memory.
McCollum stated that other technologies like drones and ground-penetrating radar were used initially in other environments. These technologies also helped to find weapons and bones or other objects.
Experts believe that the public’s interest in cold cases is also responsible for an increase in cracked cases.
“We have seen unprecedented communication between people on social media, and law enforcement has used this advantage to attract people through social media platforms,” Stein said, citing a recent case of Gabby Petito’s virus. An internet detective was the main reason his body was found. “The value of public participation cannot understated.”
McCollum spoke out about the importance of citizens in the cracking of the Zodiac Killer, DC Sniper case. She said that with the convenience of publishing to the Internet, “anyone can publish a podcast about cold cases and try to help witnesses come forward.” “That’s huge.”
She stated that time is the most important factor in resolving unsolved cases.
McCollum said, “If a child witnesses something, they have 12 years of age and are afraid of dying.” They no longer fear death by 40.”