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Orlando Cold Cases

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Orlando, Florida Cold Cases

Orlando, home to several tourist hotspots, has also been the scene of several unsolved murder and disappearance cases. Families and loved ones are left in limbo and anguish when these cases drag on for years or even decades without resolution. The rates and types of severity of these cold illnesses in Orlando are detailed below.

Around 200 unsolved homicides have been reported to the Orlando Police Department (OPD), some of which date back to the 1970s. Over sixty 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.

There have been approximately 1,500 homicides in Orlando since 1980, or around 37 per year on average. Yet, homicide rates have changed with time, increasing in the 1990s and early 2000s before leveling off in more recent years. The city's homicide rate dropped from 47 in 2019 to 25 in 2020.

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. Due to manpower constraints, detectives who are currently working on ongoing cases are typically tasked with investigating cold cases for the OPD. A result of this is that it might be challenging for detectives to give cold cases the attention they need.

The OPD 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 Orlando

Still, a lot of progress has been made. Almost 50 cases from the 1980s and 1990s have yet to be solved as of 2021, leaving many families without closure. The OPD 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 OPD isn't the only group trying to shed light on cold cases and provide assistance to bereaved families; several nonprofits do as well. As one illustration, the Jennifer Kesse Foundation is a Florida-based charity that aids the friends and loved ones of victims of crime and disappearance.

In sum, missing and slain persons situations that go unsolved are still a major issue in Orlando. Several cases from the 1980s and 1990s remain unresolved despite the OPD'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 Orlando Police Department (OPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

There are a variety of approaches that law enforcement agencies like the Orlando Police Department (OPD) can take while looking into 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.

Sharing information and resources, police may team up with other law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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 OPD 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.

The OPD's Murder Unit is responsible for investigating all homicides in the city, even those that occurred in the past. The Homicide Unit investigates murders, makes arrests, and presents evidence in court.

The OPD also requests the public's assistance in solving cold cases by reporting any relevant information they may have. 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 OPD 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?

Orlando, Florida, is home to a number of resources devoted to the investigation of cold cases. To name a few examples of such materials:

The Orlando Police Department has a dedicated cold case squad that looks into missing person and homicide investigations that have gone cold. Agents assigned to the team have received specialized training in cold case investigations and regularly collaborate with other branches of law enforcement and forensic scientists to bring criminals to justice.

The Central Florida Crimeline is a nonprofit organization that pays rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest in a cold case. Those who wish to remain anonymous can also phone the organization's hotline.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is a state agency that works with local police to solve cold cases. A team of investigators inside the department focuses on cold cases and offers their services to local police departments by way of forensic analysis, DNA testing, and other forms of investigation.

The University of Central Florida's forensic science program provides instruction and resources to Florida's law enforcement organizations. Via forensic analysis, DNA testing, and other investigative procedures, the program aids law enforcement agencies.

In incidents of child exploitation or disappearance, law enforcement can rely on help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It employs a group of forensic analysts and other investigatory specialists that offer their services to local police departments.

Major cities surrounding Orlando, Florida

Tampa, Florida
St. Petersburg, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Melbourne, Florida

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