In Indianapolis, Indiana, the problem of missing and murdered people is a major worry for both the police and the public. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) and the Marion County Prosecutor's Office have had a long-standing issue with cold cases.
The IMPD has looked into over 1,400 cases of missing persons and approximately 1,000 cases of homicide since 1980. However, many of these instances have not yet been solved, keeping the victims' loved ones in the dark.
Over 200,000 murders in the United States have not been solved since the 1960s, according to a report from the National Institute of Justice. The homicide rate in Indianapolis, a metropolis of around 870,000 people, is greater than the U.S. average. Around 240 people were killed in the city that year, setting a new record.
All killings in the city, including cold cases, are the responsibility of the IMPD's Murder Unit. The Homicide Unit's detectives have access to cutting-edge investigational tools and get specialized training. Nonetheless, despite their efforts, cold cases are sometimes difficult to solve because of a lack of physical evidence, witnesses, or new leads.
The IMPD has established a Cold Case Unit as one method for resolving cold cases. Detectives with years of expertise work in the Cold Case Unit to investigate cold cases, using cutting-edge tools and strategies. In addition to cooperating closely with the FBI and the Indiana State Police, the Unit also works closely with other agencies to share information and resources.
Genetic evidence is another important tactic. The ability to recover DNA from previously useless evidence has completely changed the way that cold case investigations are conducted. There is a team of DNA analysts at the IMPD's Crime Lab that work to identify and compare DNA samples to possible suspects. This lab is one of only two accredited forensic laboratories in Indiana. Several cold cases have had suspects identified and ultimately convicted thanks to DNA evidence.
When it comes to missing and murdered people, the IMPD works closely with local groups to spread the word and solicit tips from the public. The IMPD initiated the "Know Your Value" program in 2020 to combat the high number of Black women who go missing or are killed in the city. The campaign utilized billboards, social media, and local events to spread its message.