Many cases of persons going missing or being murdered in St. Louis, Missouri date back to the 1980s and remain unsolved. The victims' loved ones and the community at large are still troubled by these events. In an effort to bring closure to these cases and justice to the victims and their families, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) has been working around the clock.
Almost a thousand homicide and missing person cases have gone unsolved in St. Louis since 1980, according to SLMPD statistics. Almost 30 cold cases from the '80s and '90s were reported solved by the department in 2021 thanks to the application of modern forensic techniques and evidence. Many other instances, however, have not yet been resolved.
The lack of tangible evidence and witnesses is one of the biggest obstacles the SLMPD faces while trying to solve cold cases. The crime scene may have been corrupted or destroyed because many of these cases date back decades, making it impossible to collect and examine evidence. It can be difficult to track down potential witnesses since they may have moved away or passed away after the incident in question.
The department also faces difficulties due to a shortage of funding. The SLMPD, like many others across the country, has fewer resources and fewer available personnel than it would like. The department often has to prioritize active crimes over cold ones because of the extensive time, resources, and experience required to examine cold cases.
The SLMPD has employed multiple tactics in an effort to solve cold cases despite these obstacles. New forensic technology, such as DNA testing, which were not accessible when many of these cases were being probed, have been one of the most significant advances. A special unit within the department has been established to reexamine and reinvestigate cold cases. Detectives who have worked on numerous homicide cases and have received specific training in cold case investigations make up the unit's team.
One tactic has been to collaborate closely with victims' loved ones. The department recognizes the value in informing and including affected families in its investigations. They keep the public apprised of developments and provide comfort to the families, both of which are essential in bringing attention to the cases.