Unsolved crimes, also known as "cold cases," remain a problem for police and communities across the United States. Many unsolved crimes from the 1980s have left families and law enforcement in Jefferson City, Missouri, yearning for closure.
There are more than 20 missing persons cases and over 30 homicides in Jefferson City that have not been solved since 1980, according to statistics from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). Families and loved ones of victims of all ages, walks of life, and circumstances have been heartbroken.
These mysteries have various root causes. Some instances may have been mishandled during the initial investigation, while others may have lacked necessary physical evidence or witnesses. It can be more trickier to investigate these crimes because many of them predate modern forensics equipment.
Jefferson City police are dedicated to solving these cold cases despite the difficulties they provide. Unsolved murders and disappearances are investigated by detectives of the Jefferson City Police Department's Cold Case Unit. The major mission of the team is to answer the questions of victims' loved ones and to bring those responsible to justice.
Reviewing and analyzing the case file, reinterviewing witnesses and suspects, employing new technology, partnering with other agencies, requesting the public's help, and maintaining touch with victim families are all standard operating procedures for the agency while investigating cold cases.
The murder of 36-year-old Angela Mischelle Lawless in 1991 was solved by the Cold Case Unit in 2019, marking one of the unit's most remarkable achievements to date. The Cold Case Unit discovered new DNA evidence that led to the arrest and conviction of the culprit after the case had gone cold for almost 25 years.
Unfortunately, while some of these cold cases have been solved, the vast majority have not. Cold Case Unit detectives are still looking for new clues and evidence that could help solve these crimes as victims' families still wait for answers.