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Grand Rapids Cold Cases

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Grand Rapids, Michigan Cold Cases

There are several decades-old murder and disappearance cases in Grand Rapids, Michigan that have yet to be resolved. The Grand Rapids Police Department reports that there are over a hundred cold cases of homicide that date back to the 1970s. Since 1980, we've compiled some data on missing and murdered people in Grand Rapids, Michigan who have gone unsolved.

According to the Grand Rapids Police Department, there have been over a thousand incidents of missing people recorded between 1980 and 2021, with about two-thirds of those cases 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.

There are now over 2,000 missing person reports in Michigan, and several dozen of those are in Grand Rapids 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.

Around a third of the more than 400 homicides that occurred in Grand Rapids between 1980 and 2021 are still open cases. Many of these incidents have not been resolved and are still being looked at.

The Murder Unit of the Grand Rapids 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 Grand Rapids Police Department and other organizations in the area have been campaigning to get more people talking about and helping with cold case investigations. The department developed a cold case website in 2020 with details on how the public can provide information and tips regarding unresolved homicide and missing person cases.

Famous cold cases in Grand Rapids

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.

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.

Since 1980, Grand Rapids, Michigan has had a disproportionately high number of unsolved missing person and homicide cases, highlighting the importance of maintaining advocacy for these cases and allocating sufficient resources 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 Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Grand Rapids Police Department maintains a Cold Case Squad that looks into cold crimes including murders and disappearances that have yet to be solved. Members of the team have undergone extensive training in cold case investigation.

The following are the standard actions taken by the team 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.

Team members may coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Michigan State Police to pool resources and pool expertise in order to crack the case.

So that anyone who may have information about the case might come forward, the team may make public announcements about it (through media like press releases or social media).

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 Grand Rapids Police Department is dedicated to using all resources at its disposal to solve these cold cases and deliver justice to the victims' loved ones. The department also actively seeks for public participation and feedback in fixing these cases. The squad diligently pursues every lead it receives via the department's cold case website, where the public can send tips and information.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

Grand Rapids, Michigan, is home to a number of resources devoted to the investigation of cold cases. Among these are:

The Grand Rapids Police Department maintains a Cold Case Unit comprised of investigators that specialize in reopening cold cases including homicides and disappearances. They collaborate with other organizations to investigate leads and collect necessary proof.

Missing People Unit of the Michigan State Police: The Michigan State Police aid local law enforcement agencies in their investigations of missing individuals and unexplained remains, including cold cases.

NamUs is a nationwide database that houses data and resources to aid in the search for missing persons and the identification of unidentified remains. This database can be accessed by law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, and the general public.

The Michigan Cold Case Association is a nonprofit group dedicated to assisting local police departments in resolving cold cases. Agencies can take advantage of their guidance, resources, and training to sharpen their investigative skills.

Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit that allows people to anonymously report information concerning criminal activity, even cold cases. This group collaborates closely with law enforcement to give useful information that can be used in investigations.

DNA testing New methods for analyzing one's genetic material have helped solve several cold cases. Grand Rapids, and all of Michigan, has access to forensic DNA testing services that can aid in the identification of suspects and victims.

Coverage in the media, including as television newscasts and newspapers, can assist spread the word about cold cases and inspire citizens to come forward with information.

In sum, Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan are home to a number of facilities and organizations dedicated to the investigation and resolution of cold cases. Justice and closure for victims' families require a concerted effort by law enforcement, nonprofits, and the general public.

Major cities surrounding Grand Rapids, Michigan

Wyoming, Michigan
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Holland, Michigan
Muskegon, Michigan
Lansing, Michigan

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