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Sacramento Cold Cases

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Sacramento, California Cold Cases

Cases involving disappearances and murders in Sacramento, California, that have gone cold over the years continue to be a problem. Authorities have been at a loss to explain the motives of serial killers and other violent offenders, leaving their victims' families with many unanswered concerns.

There are approximately 300 unsolved cases of missing or murdered people in Sacramento County alone, dating back to the 1980s, according to data from the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). There are missing persons cases involving people of all ages, both sexes, and all races, and some of them have been unexplained for decades.

In the Sacramento Police Department, they have a special team of detectives who work around the clock to crack cold cases. The unit evaluates cold cases that have been open for more than a year and assigns priorities to them based on factors including the availability of DNA evidence or leads.

The absence of tangible evidence is a major obstacle to solving cold cases. Important evidence may have been misplaced, destroyed, or tainted over time in many circumstances. The team uses modern forensics techniques to examine data that could have been missed before, such DNA or fingerprints.

The reluctance of witnesses to come forward is another difficulty in solving cold cases. It's possible that some witnesses were too intimidated or forgetful to come forward at the time of the crime. By its community outreach efforts, the unit hopes to inspire citizens to come forward with any scrap of information they may have.

Famous cold cases in Sacramento

Recently, the Sacramento Police Department has collaborated with other departments and groups in the pursuit of justice to provide closure to long-unsolved crimes. Forensic genealogy is used by the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit organization that joined with the police in 2019. Jane Doe, whose body was discovered in Sacramento in 1981, was finally identified thanks to our collaboration, bringing her family the answers and closure they had been searching for all these years.

There are still a significant number of cold cases in Sacramento, despite the best efforts of the Cold Case Unit and its allies. It may be difficult to bring families closure or hold offenders accountable in circumstances when there is a lack of physical evidence or witness testimony.

The Sacramento Police Department has taken measures to address this problem from multiple angles, including through prevention and education, community outreach, and the distribution of safety equipment. Authorities seek to lower the number of cold cases and provide closure to families by preventing crimes before they happen.

It's shocking how many individuals have gone missing or been murdered in Sacramento without a single case being closed since 1980. But, thanks to the Cold Case Unit's tireless efforts, improvements in forensic technology, and collaborations with other groups, there is optimism that these cases can be solved and families can find peace. Community participation is also highlighted by the unit's emphasis on prevention and education, which is crucial to minimizing the number of future cold cases.

Joseph Smedley
Joseph SmedleySuspicious Death, 2015
Asha Degree
Asha DegreeMissing, 2000

Consider this

More than 200,000 unsolved cases have gone cold since 1980, and murder clearance rates continue to drop. With equity for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underserved victims not prioritized in the true crime community—together we can do better.

What is Sacramento Police Department (SPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

Unsolved homicides from as far back as the 1960s are the focus of the Sacramento Police Department's (SPD) Cold Case Homicide Unit. Detectives assigned to the team have substantial training and expertise investigating cold cases and have worked before on homicide cases.

The Police Department has a multi-pronged strategy while looking into cold cases. To begin, the department investigates any homicides that have gone unsolved for at least a year, or "cold cases." Each case is then assessed for its solveability and its potential consequences for the victim's loved ones and the neighborhood.

Cold case detectives employ a wide range of strategies once they've decided to investigate a case. Witnesses may be re-interviewed, forensic evidence may be re-analyzed with updated tools, and any new information that has surfaced after the investigation was initially opened may also be considered.

The SPD relies heavily on community members for information and leads. The police agency routinely arranges press conferences and community outreach activities to talk about unsolved crimes and get people to talk to them. The division also works with regional media to spread the word about cold cases and encourage suggestions from readers and viewers.

The SPD not only conducts individual case investigations, but also works with the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs) to identify unidentifiable remains and find missing people. A nationwide database of missing persons and unidentified remains may be searched by detectives using this method, giving them a better chance of solving cold cases.

The SPD's approach to solving cold cases is multifaceted, involving both classic and cutting-edge investigation methods, as well as public engagement and cooperation with other law enforcement entities. The department's dedication to bringing victims and their families justice through thorough cold case investigations is a testament to this commitment.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

The city of Sacramento, California, is home to a number of resources devoted to the investigation of cold cases. Here are only a few examples:

The Sacramento Police Department maintains a special section that looks into cold cases, such as murders that have never been solved or people who have gone missing. They collaborate with the public and other organizations to investigate and resolve cases.

The Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization that allows people to report crimes anonymously. Tips and information about cold cases can be submitted via a hotline and an online form.

Department of Justice in California The Bureau of Investigation at the California Department of Justice works with local law enforcement to solve cold cases. They offer investigation help, intelligence analysis, and forensic services.

The NCMEC is a resource for law enforcement and families of missing children. They also help with investigations and forensics when children go missing or are exploited.

DNA Laboratories International is a private forensic laboratory that works with government organizations and individuals to do DNA testing and analysis. Some cold cases have been solved with the help of their expertise in examining deteriorated or problematic samples.

Major cities surrounding Sacramento, California

San Francisco, California
Oakland, California
Stockton, California
Modesto, California
Roseville, California

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Top Sacramento Cold Cases