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Boston, Massachusetts Cold Cases

Unsolved homicides and missing person cases have haunted Boston for decades, leaving numerous families searching for answers and justice. The Boston Police Department reports that there have been over a thousand homicides in the city since 1970, many of which are still considered cold cases. Statistics on unsolved cases of homicide and disappearance in Boston, Massachusetts, since 1980 are provided below.

Around 1,200 cases of missing people were recorded in Boston between 1980 and 2021, with about half involving adults and the other half involving minors. Some of these cases go unsolved for a long time, even though the vast majority are eventually closed.

More than two hundred people are missing in Massachusetts, with many of them from the Boston area, according to the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). Adults, rather than minors, make up the vast majority of victims in these situations.

Almost 3,000 people have been murdered in Boston since 1980, with about half of those murders still unsolved in 2021. Many of these incidents have not been resolved and are still being looked at.

These cases are investigated by the Murder Unit of the Boston Police Department, however due to resource constraints, many of them remain unsolved. Lack of physical evidence, unwilling witnesses, and a lack of information all contribute to the large percentage of unresolved homicide cases.

The Boston Police Department and other local groups have been actively campaigning for more funding and publicity for the resolution of unsolved crimes in the city. The agency developed a cold case webpage in 2018 with details on how the public can provide information and tips about unresolved homicide and missing person investigations.

Technological progress has also contributed to the resolution of cold cases. DNA analysis and other forensic techniques have allowed police to revisit old cases in the hopes of finding new leads or new pieces of evidence.

Famous cold cases in Boston

The Cold Case Team of the Boston Police Department used Genetic evidence to solve a homicide case from 1991 in 2017. The body of the 32-year-old female victim was discovered in her South End, Boston, apartment. A suspect captured in another state for an unrelated crime was eventually linked to the murder through Genetic evidence from the crime scene, after the case had gone cold for almost 25 years.

The importance of solving cold cases extends beyond the victims' loved ones and into the larger community. These instances frequently involve acts of violence that have been ignored, freeing the offender to perpetrate other acts of violence.

Also, resolving cold cases can give victims and their loved ones a feeling of closure and justice. Many victims' loved ones spend years, perhaps decades, seeking for answers; settling a cold case might finally give them peace of mind.

When considering the number of persons who have gone missing or been killed in Boston, Massachusetts since 1980, it is clear that more work has to be done to bring attention to these cases and secure adequate funding to solve them. There is optimism that some of these cases may be solved, bringing closure and justice to the families of the victims, thanks to technological developments and improved collaboration between law enforcement and community organizations.

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 Boston Police Department (BPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

Unsolved homicides and other big crimes are investigated by the Boston Police Department's Cold Case Team. Members of the squad have extensive backgrounds in law enforcement and have received specialized training in cold case inquiry.

The Boston Police Department follows the following procedure for investigating cold cases:

The detectives will look over all of the available evidence, witness statements, and other information linked to the case to see if there are any new leads or information that was missed during the initial investigation.

Detectives will try to track down and re-interview those who were interviewed during the initial investigation to determine if they have any new information or insights that could lead to an arrest or guilty plea.

The team may evaluate the case's evidence using cutting-edge forensic tools like DNA and fingerprint analysis.

Working with the FBI or the Massachusetts State Police, for example, could provide the squad with access to additional resources and expertise while they investigate the case.

Putting out feelers for tips from the general public, the squad may use channels like press releases and social media to spread the word about the investigation.

The investigators may keep in touch with the family of the victim on a regular basis to give them updates on the case and show their support.

The Cold Case Squad of the Boston Police Department is dedicated to using all resources at its disposal to solve these cold cases and bring closure to the victims' loved ones.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

In Boston, Massachusetts, there are a number of resources available to investigate and potentially solve cold cases. Included among these references are:

Unsolved murders and disappearances are investigated by the Boston Police Department's Cold Case Squad. In order to solve the cases, they use a number of tools at their disposal, one of which is forensic evidence.

The Massachusetts State Police have a special squad that investigates cold cases, such as murders and disappearances that have not yet been solved. They collaborate with police departments in their areas to offer assistance and knowledge.

The unsolved homicides in Suffolk County are investigated by the Cold Case Unit of the District Attorney's Office in Suffolk County. To settle these instances, they collaborate with local authorities and other organizations.

State of Massachusetts Forensic Services The Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner offers forensic services to local law enforcement agencies to aid in the resolution of cold cases. DNA analysis and other cutting-edge methods are used to positively identify suspects in cold cases.

Law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are all linked through the New England State Police Information Network, a regional database. The database aids law enforcement in sharing information to solve cold cases, as it contains details on those that have yet to be resolved.

Major cities surrounding Boston, Massachusetts

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Quincy, Massachusetts
Providence, Rhode Island
Worcester, Massachusetts
Manchester, New Hampshire

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