Facebook Pixel

Gainesville Cold Cases

Stay on top of all things cold cases, advocacy, and true crime with our twice per week newsletter

Gainesville, Florida Cold Cases

There are only about 135,000 people living in Gainesville, Florida, which is mostly students at the University of Florida. A number of people have gone missing or been murdered in what appears to be a peaceful neighborhood. Families and loved ones are left in limbo and anguish when these cases drag on for years or even decades without resolution. The frequency and nature of these cold cases in Gainesville are revealed by the data below.

The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) reports that the city has over a hundred unsolved homicide cases, some of which date back to the 1970s. Approximately 20 of these cases are considered "cold," or unsolved for more than three years. Several disappearances and missing persons cases have likewise gone cold and have not been solved.

With an annual homicide rate of about 1-2, Gainesville has experienced over 50 murders since 1980. Yet, homicide rates have changed throughout time, rising sharply in the early 1990s before leveling off in more recent decades.

Because of the absence of tangible evidence and credible witnesses, investigating cold cases is notoriously difficult. Several of these crimes occurred in the '80s and '90s, when DNA testing and other modern forensic methods were not yet in use. The inability to locate and question eyewitnesses is compounded by the fact that some incidents may have included people who have passed away or relocated.

The absence of funds set aside to investigate cold cases is another obstacle. Because to manpower constraints, detectives who are currently working on ongoing cases are typically tasked with investigating cold cases for the GPD. A result of this is that it might be challenging for detectives to give cold cases the attention they need.

Famous cold cases in Gainesville

There have been obstacles, but the GPD has made headway in solving cold cases throughout the city. For the past few years, the agency has established a special unit to examine and reexamine cold cases. In certain instances, investigators have been able to make significant headway thanks to new leads or technological advancements, resulting in arrests and convictions.

Still, a lot of progress has been made. Almost 20 cases from the 1980s and 1990s remain unsolved in 2021, leaving many families without closure. The GPD has called on the public for assistance in solving these crimes by sharing any information they may have. The agency has also made use of various online mediums to spread the word about cold cases in the hopes of finding fresh leads or witnesses.

The GPD isn't the only group trying to shed light on cold cases and provide assistance to bereaved families; several nonprofits do as well. For instance, the Cold Case Foundation is a non-profit group that helps families of missing people and homicide victims in Gainesville by spreading the word about unsolved cases.

In sum, unsolved cases of homicide and disappearance continue to plague the city of Gainesville. Several cases from the 1980s and 1990s remain unresolved despite the GPD's and other groups' best efforts. The community as a whole feels the effects of the lack of resolution for the families and loved ones of the victims. Even if there has been some improvement in the last few years, more time and energy are still required to solve these cases and bring individuals who have suffered justice.

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 Gainesville Police Department (GPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Gainesville Police Department (GPD), like many others, may use a variety of techniques while looking into cold cases.

Starting with all the information and evidence that has been gathered over the years, including witness accounts, forensic evidence, and other leads, detectives will analyze the case file.

It is common practice for detectives to re-examine witnesses to determine whether or not they have learned new information or whether or not their memories have altered after the initial interview.

DNA testing and other forensic procedures are only two examples of how technological advancements might be utilized to evaluate physical evidence and find fresh leads in an investigation.

To help solve the case, detectives may coordinate with other law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

The GPD may arrange news conferences, post updates on social media, or utilize other methods to reach out to the public in the hopes that someone with knowledge of the case may come forward.

Dedicated to analyzing and researching cold cases, the investigative experts at many police departments are known as "cold case squads."

The GPD has a special division called the Cold Case Unit that looks into old, cold cases. In this squad, you'll find seasoned detectives who have made a career out of investigating cold cases. To crack cold cases, the unit employs a wide range of methods, some of which are described above.

All homicides in the city, including cold cases, are investigated by the GPD's Homicide Unit, which works in tandem with the Cold Case Unit. The Homicide Unit investigates murders, makes arrests, and presents evidence in court.

Finally, the GPD collaborates with non-profits and victim advocacy groups to aid the loved ones of those who have gone missing or been murdered. Several of these groups provide counseling, legal aid, and other services to help victims' families deal with the loss of a loved one and the complexities of the criminal justice system.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

In Gainesville, Florida, you can use a variety of tools to investigate cold cases. To name a few examples of such materials:

Crimes committed within the city limits of Gainesville are the responsibility of the Gainesville Police Department. They have a special division that looks into cold cases and tries to figure out what happened.

Local law enforcement agencies in Florida benefit from the assistance provided by the state's Department of Law Enforcement. There is something called the Cold Case Squad that collaborates with other departments to examine cold cases.

Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit group that allows people to anonymously report information concerning criminal activity. There are financial incentives for information leading to an individual's capture and conviction.

Crimes committed on campus are investigated by the University of Florida Police Department. Unresolved cases are reviewed and investigated by a special cold case section.

To help families and law enforcement with instances involving missing or abducted children, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was established as a non-profit organization. There is a missing children's unit that investigates cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Gainesville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Ocala, Florida

Get Your Free Step-By-Step Citizen Detective Guide

Get Your Free Step-By-Step Citizen Detective Guide