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Detroit Cold Cases

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Detroit, Michigan Cold Cases

Many homicides and cases of missing people have gone decades without being resolved in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Many of the almost 4,000 homicides that have gone unsolved in Detroit since the 1960s are considered cold cases, according to the department's statistics. Since 1980, we've compiled some data on unsolved murder and disappearance cases in Detroit, Michigan.

Around 12,000 cases of missing people were recorded in Detroit between 1980 and 2021, with about two-thirds of them being 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.

Almost two thousand people are missing in Michigan, and hundreds of them are from the city of Detroit, according to the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). Adults, rather than minors, make up the vast majority of victims in these situations.

More than 8,000 people have been murdered in Detroit since 1980, with nearly two-thirds of the killings still unexplained as of 2021. Many of these incidents have not been resolved and are still being looked at.

The Murder Bureau of the Detroit Police Department is in charge of looking into these incidents, but due to a lack of manpower, many of them go cold. Lack of physical evidence, unwilling witnesses, and a lack of information all contribute to the large percentage of unresolved homicide cases.

The Detroit Police Department and other local groups have been actively lobbying for more funding and attention to be directed on solving long-cold crimes in the city. The agency has released a cold case webpage in 2019 with details on how the public can provide information and tips about unresolved homicide and missing person investigations.

Famous cold cases in Detroit

ΩTechnological 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.

The Cold Case Unit of the Detroit Police Department used Genetic evidence to crack a murder case from 1983. The body of the 24-year-old female victim was discovered in her Detroit apartment. For nearly 40 years, police had no leads, but finally, DNA evidence linked a man captured in another state with 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.

In sum, efforts to increase awareness and dedicate resources for these investigations must be maintained, as evidenced by the large number of unsolved missing and homicide cases in Detroit, Michigan, since 1980. 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 Detroit Police Department (DPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Cold Case Unit of the Detroit Police Department looks into cold cases of murder and disappearance. 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 Michigan State Police, for example, could provide the unit with access to additional resources and expertise as it investigates the crime.

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 Cold Case Unit of the Detroit Police Department is dedicated to using all resources at its disposal to finally solve these crimes and provide closure to the victims' loved ones.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

In Detroit, Michigan, there are a number of resources available to investigate and potentially solve cold cases. Among these are:

The Detroit Police Department has a unique section that focuses on solving cold cases. The team works closely with the victims' loved ones and use numerous tools, including as Genetic evidence and modern technology, in an effort to solve the cases at hand.

There is a cold case unit within the Michigan State Police that looks into cold cases of murder and disappearance.

Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that allows anyone to anonymously disclose information about crimes, including cold cases. All tips can be provided via phone, text, or the web.

The Detroit Crime Commission is a non-profit organization that works in tandem with law enforcement to combat crime in the city of Detroit. They have a number of services and programs available, such as a reward scheme for information that helps solve cold cases.

Private investigators are another option for families looking for answers in cold cases and closure for their loved ones.

Keep in mind that solving cold cases can be challenging, and that some instances may never be solved. Support for victims and their families, as well as punishment for those responsible, are available thanks to these tools.

Major cities surrounding Detroit, Michigan

Warren, Michigan
Sterling Heights, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Flint, Michigan
Toledo, Ohio

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