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Tampa Cold Cases

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Tampa, Florida Cold Cases

There are many unsolved cases of murder and disappearance in Tampa, a busy city on Florida's west coast. Families and loved ones are left in limbo and anguish when these cases drag on for years or even decades without resolution. These are numbers that shed light on how common and complicated these cold cases are in Tampa.

Around 600 unsolved homicide cases, some dating back to the 1970s, have been reported to the Tampa Police Department (TPD). Among of these, about 200 are considered "cold cases," meaning they have been unsolved for at least three years. Several disappearances and missing persons cases have likewise gone cold and have not been solved.

Almost 2,000 people have been murdered in Tampa since 1980, with an annual average of about 50. Yet, homicide rates have changed throughout time, rising sharply in the early 1990s before leveling off in more recent decades. When compared to 2019, when there were 49 killings in the city, there were only 31 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 TPD. A result of this is that it might be challenging for detectives to give cold cases the attention they need.

The TPD has made headway in solving some of the city's cold cases despite the difficulties that have arisen. 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 Tampa

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 Toronto Police Department (TPD) has asked members of the public to come forward with any leads they may have on cold cases. 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 TPD isn't the only group trying to shed light on cold cases and help out grieving families; other nonprofits do, too. For instance, the Tampa Bay Cold Case Initiative is a charitable group that helps families of missing people and homicide victims by bringing light to cold cases in the Tampa Bay area.

Finally, unsolved incidents of homicide and disappearance are still a major issue in Tampa. Despite the TPD's and other groups' best efforts, many crimes from the '80s and '90s remain unresolved. 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 Tampa Police Department (TPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Tampa Police Department (TPD), like many others, may use a variety of techniques to try and 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.

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 Toronto Police Service has a special team 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 TPD's Murder Unit is responsible for looking into all homicides in the city, including cold cases. The Homicide Unit investigates murders, makes arrests, and presents evidence in court.

The TPD 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 TPD 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?

Cold case investigators in Tampa, Florida, have access to a number of resources, including:

Cold Case Unit of the Tampa Police Department investigates homicides, disappearances, and sexual assaults that have not yet been solved. When a case needs to be solved and families need closure, they collaborate with law enforcement at all levels.

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is a non-profit dedicated to solving crimes, even cold cases, by anonymous tips from the public. Tips can be filed online, over the phone, or through the P3 Tips mobile app, and there is a reward for information leading to an arrest.

Support for local law enforcement agencies across Florida, including assistance with cold case investigations, is provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Anyone can look through their database of missing people and unclaimed bodies.

Services in forensic anthropology are offered to local law enforcement through the University of South Florida's Institute of Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science in the Tampa Bay area. They aid in the process of determining the identity of skeletal remains and offer courtroom testimony as experts.

The medical examiner's office in Hillsborough County, Florida, is responsible for performing autopsy and lending their forensic expertise to law enforcement during homicide investigations. Together, they aid law enforcement in solving cases and reuniting with loved ones.

Major cities surrounding Tampa, Florida

St. Petersburg, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Lakeland, Florida

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