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Savannah Cold Cases

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Savannah, Georgia Cold Cases

Population estimates place Savannah, Georgia's population at at 145,000. Savannah is known for its Southern hospitality, but the city also has a disturbing history of unsolved murders and disappearances that have gone cold. These lawsuits, which can drag on for decades without resolution, cause untold suffering and anxiety among loved ones. Take a look at these numbers to get a better idea of how common and complicated these cold cases are in Savannah.

Around 200 unsolved homicides, some dating back to the 1970s, have been reported to the Savannah Police Department (SPD). Around half of these cases are considered "cold" since they have been unsolved for more than three years. Several disappearances and missing persons cases have likewise gone cold and have not been solved.

There have been more than 400 homicides in Savannah since 1980, or around 10–15 each year on average. Yet, homicide rates have changed throughout time, rising steadily until the late 1980s before leveling off.

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 the SPD's low manpower and supply levels, detectives who are currently working on active cases are frequently tasked with cold case investigations. A result of this is that it might be challenging for detectives to give cold cases the attention they need.

Although difficulties remain, the SPD has made headway in solving 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 Savannah

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 SPD has asked for the public's assistance in solving these incidents by reporting any leads they may have. The agency has also made public pleas for help on social media and other channels, asking for anyone with information to come forward.

As well as the SPD, various non-profits are doing their part to raise awareness about cold cases and provide assistance to the families of the victims of violent crimes. For instance, in Georgia, local law enforcement agencies and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's (GBI) Cold Case Unit collaborate to investigate and solve cold cases.

Finally, missing and murdered persons situations that go unsolved are still a major issue in Savannah. Several cases from the 1980s and 1990s remain unresolved despite the SPD'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 Savannah Police Department (SPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

When it comes to researching cold cases, the Savannah Police Department (SPD) employs a variety of techniques. Among these methods are:

Evidence will be reexamined and reanalyzed by detectives, who will look through everything they found during the original investigation and then use any new tools and methods they have at their disposal.

DNA testing and other forensic techniques are used by the SPD to reexamine physical evidence collected at the site of a crime, such as fingerprints, blood samples, and hairs.

Investigators will conduct follow-up interviews with previously interviewed witnesses and suspects to glean any further information that may be useful in solving the case.

The SPD employs several methods, including as social media and the Crime Stoppers program, to solicit information from the public and follow up on leads they receive.

In order to acquire information and resources to solve the case, the SPD may collaborate with other agencies and professionals, such as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The SPD has a special unit whose job it is to investigate and review cold cases.

In addition, the SPD has solicited the public's help in solving cold cases by inviting anyone with relevant information to come forward. As part of their Crime Stoppers initiative, they provide monetary prizes for information that leads to an arrest or indictment in any crime case, including cold ones.

When it comes to helping the relatives of those who have gone missing or been murdered, the SPD collaborates closely with victim advocacy groups and non-profit organizations. 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.

The SPD uses a variety of methods, including collaboration with other organizations and members of the community, to investigate unsolved and cold cases.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

The city of Savannah, Georgia, has a number of services available to the public to aid in the investigation of cold cases.

The Savannah Police Department maintains a specialized cold case squad that looks into murders and disappearances that have not been solved. You can reach the section at (912) 651-6728.

District Attorney's Office of Chatham County, Georgia The District Attorney's Office of Chatham County, Georgia offers a Victim Witness Assistance Program to help anyone who have been affected by violent crime, including those who have been victims of cold cases. You can reach the office at (912) 652-7308.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is a state body that looks into major crimes around the state, such as homicides and disappearances. Dial (404) 244-2600 to reach the GBI.

Reward money is offered by Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit group dedicated to solving unsolved crimes and cold cases. Crime Stoppers can be reached by dialing (912) 234-2020, and callers will remain anonymous.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with local authorities to find missing children and bring them home safely. For more information, call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

Major cities surrounding Savannah, Georgia

Charleston, South Carolina
Jacksonville, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Columbia, South Carolina
Macon, Georgia

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