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Jacksonville Cold Cases

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Jacksonville, Florida Cold Cases

Many unsolved murder and disappearance cases have their origins in Jacksonville, Florida. These crimes sometimes go unresolved for years, if not decades, causing untold suffering and anxiety throughout families and communities. Detailed information about the frequency and nature of such "cold cases" in Jacksonville is provided below.

Around 300 unsolved homicides have been reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO), some of which date back to the 1970s. Over 150 of these have gone unresolved for at least three years, making them "cold cases." Several disappearances and missing persons cases have likewise gone cold and have not been solved.

At an annual average of about 85, Jacksonville has had almost 3,500 homicides since 1980. Yet, homicide rates have changed over time, rising sharply in the early 2000s before leveling down. There were 132 homicides in the city in 2020, up from 120 the year before.

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.

There were a lot of murders to investigate in the city, especially during the crack epidemic of the '80s and '90s. It has been challenging for law enforcement to track down and punish the individuals responsible for these murders because many of them were gang-related and involved several suspects.

The JSO has overcome obstacles and solved some of the city's cold cases. 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.

Famous cold cases in Jacksonville

Still, a lot of progress has been made. As of the year 2021, there are over a hundred cold cases that date back to the 1980s and 1990s, leaving many families without closure. The JSO has asked the public to come forward with any leads they may have on cold cases in an effort to fix this problem. 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 JSO isn't the only organization trying to shed light on cold cases and provide solace to bereaved families; there are several others. The Justice Coalition is one such group; they help the bereaved of murder victims and advocate for the resolution of unsolved homicides in their community. Along with the JSO and other law enforcement authorities, the group actively searches for missing persons and brings awareness to cases that have gone cold.

In sum, unsolved incidents of homicide and disappearance in Jacksonville are far from resolved. Several cases from the 1980s and 1990s remain unresolved despite the JSO's and others' 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 Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) and other police agencies use a variety of techniques to solve cold cases.

Evidence is re-examined by looking at it again, from physical objects to witness testimony to surveillance tapes. As forensic science develops, it may become possible to reexamine evidence that has already been gathered.

The police may revisit the crime scene and question potential witnesses, relatives, and others who may have information that will lead to an arrest.

Working with other agencies: The police may pool their resources with those of other law enforcement organizations, such as the FBI.

Authorities might utilize social media to ask the public for help, update them on the investigation, and encourage any potential witnesses to come forward.

Even if there have been no fresh leads, police may reexamine cold cases on a regular basis to see if any new information has surfaced or whether technological advancements could lead to a solution.

The JSO has a special division called the Cold Case Unit that looks into 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 JSO's Homicide Unit. The Homicide Unit investigates murders, makes arrests, and presents evidence in court.

In addition, the JSO requests that members of the public come forward with any leads they may have on cold cases. To encourage members of the public to come forward with information that could lead to the resolution of cases, the department has established a tip line and rewards program.

Finally, the JSO collaborates with nonprofits 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 Jacksonville, Florida, there are many tools at your disposal to investigate and maybe solve cold cases:

The Cold Case Unit of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is responsible for reopening and reinvestigating cold cases of homicide and disappearance. Using cutting-edge forensic tools and methods of investigation, the unit's seasoned detectives and investigators crack cold cases.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) assists local agencies with cold case investigations. There is a special commission within the agency tasked with reviewing cold cases and making suggestions for how to move forward.

Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that allows people to report crimes, including cold cases, anonymously. It pays out money for information that leads to an arrest or indictment.

When a kid goes missing, law enforcement authorities and their families can turn to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for help. The group stores information about missing kids and offers age-progression pictures to help police find them.

DNA and Forensic Science: Recent developments in DNA and forensic science have given investigators new ways to approach cold cases. Many cold cases have been solved thanks to advances in forensic science and DNA databases. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) runs a top-notch forensics facility in Jacksonville from which it serves local and regional police departments.

Major cities surrounding Jacksonville, Florida

Gainesville, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Orlando, Florida

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