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Worcester, Massachusetts Cold Cases

Several murders and disappearances in Worcester, Massachusetts, have gone unsolved for decades, leaving grieving families without answers or resolution. The Worcester Police Department reports that there are now over 150 cold cases of homicide dating back to 1970. Since 1980, we've compiled some data on unsolved cases of homicide and disappearance in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Around 500 incidents of missing people were recorded in Worcester between 1980 and 2021, with about two-thirds of those cases involving adults and the remaining one-third involving minors. Some of these cases go unsolved for a long time, even though the vast majority are eventually closed.

There are now over 200 missing person cases in Massachusetts, and several dozen of those are in the city of Worcester alone, as reported by the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). Adults, rather than minors, make up the vast majority of victims in these situations.

More than 1,200 people have been murdered in Worcester since 1980; half of these crimes have not been investigated. Many of these incidents have not been resolved and are still being looked at.

Due to a lack of manpower and funds, the Murder Unit of the Worcester Police Department has been unable to solve many of these murders. Lack of physical evidence, unwilling witnesses, and a lack of information all contribute to the large percentage of unresolved homicide cases.

The Worcester Police Department and other local groups have been actively lobbying for more funding and attention to be directed toward solving cold cases. The agency developed a cold case webpage in 2017 with details on how the public can provide information about unsolved homicides and missing persons cases.

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 Worcester

A homicide case from 1968 was solved by the Cold Case Unit of the Worcester Police Department in 2016. The body of the victim, a woman aged 19, was discovered in her Worcester apartment. For over half a century, police had no leads, but in 2015, DNA evidence linked a suspect who had died in 1995 to the case.

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.

The large number of unsolved cases of homicide and disappearance in Worcester, Massachusetts since 1980 highlights the importance of maintaining efforts to raise awareness and dedicate resources for these investigations. 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 Worcester Police Department (WPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

Unsolved murder and disappearance cases are investigated by the Worcester Police Department's Cold Case Unit. Members of the unit have undergone specific training to learn how to investigate cold cases.

These are some of the typical actions used by the unit when examining 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.

Evidence from the case may be reexamined using cutting-edge forensic techniques, such as DNA or fingerprint analysis.

Working with the FBI or the Massachusetts State Police, for example, might provide the unit with access to additional resources and expertise as it investigates the case.

The team may go public with details of the investigation via channels like press releases and social media in the hopes that someone would come forward with information.

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 Worcester Police Department's Cold Case Unit is dedicated to using all resources at its disposal to finally solve these crimes and give victims' loved ones some peace of mind.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

In Worcester, Massachusetts, residents can use a variety of tools to investigate and potentially solve cold cases. Among these are:

The Worcester Police Department has a specialized cold case squad that looks into serious crimes like homicides that have yet to be solved. The team communicates with victims' loved ones and employs cutting-edge forensic tools and methods in order to solve crimes.

The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit not only looks into cold cases in Worcester but across the state. The group collaborates with municipal police departments to share data and assets.

It is the mission of the New England Regional Fingerprint and Identification Consortium (NERFIC), a regional law enforcement body, to offer fingerprint and identification services to local law enforcement agencies in New England. This organization has helped solve a number of long-cold cases in the Worcester area.

When a missing person or unexplained body is discovered, law enforcement agencies can rely on the help of the Doe Network, a group of dedicated volunteers. The group offers forensic and DNA testing services, in addition to maintaining a database of missing persons and unexplained remains.

As a nonprofit that collaborates with law enforcement to receive anonymous reports concerning illegal behavior, Crime Stoppers is invaluable. In Worcester, there is a chapter of Crime Stoppers that pays cash rewards for information that helps solve cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Worcester, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
Providence, Rhode Island
Manchester, New Hampshire
Hartford, Connecticut

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