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Omaha Cold Cases

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Omaha, Nebraska Cold Cases

Omaha, Nebraska, like many other American cities, has its fair share of unsolved murder and disappearance cases that have gone cold. Families who have been waiting for answers in these situations for years, maybe decades, often feel like they will never get them. While every case is different, the statistics surrounding these types of crimes can be rather disturbing and provide light on the difficulties law enforcement agencies have when attempting to solve them.

Omaha has had approximately 500 unsolved cases of missing persons or homicides since 1980. Several of these cases have not been solved despite efforts by law enforcement and families to find answers despite technological and other breakthroughs.

Since 1980, around 300 cases involving missing people have been documented. Around 75% of these cases have been closed, leaving 25% unresolved. Lack of evidence, missing people who vanished on their own own, and incidents in which the victim is presumed to have been taken out of state or country are just a few of the many possible explanations for why these crimes remain unsolved.

Omaha has had over 200 unsolved homicides and hundreds more missing person incidents since 1980. Many suspects and a lack of evidence or eyewitnesses can make these situations exceptionally challenging for law enforcement. When compared to the clearance rate for missing person cases, the clearance rate for killings is lower, hovering around 60%.

Omaha's police department is still working around the clock to crack these cases, numbers or no numbers. DNA evidence has played a major part in several recent cold case arrests thanks to developments in technology and forensic science. Social media and other online tools have also facilitated the widespread distribution of news and calls for assistance that were before impossible.

The lack of resources is a problem for law enforcement when looking into cold cases. Due to resource constraints, it may be impossible to conduct in-depth inquiries into each situation. When new information becomes available years after a case has been closed for lack of leads or evidence, it is often decided to reopen the investigation.

The emotional toll these cases may take on loved ones and law enforcement is another obstacle. Many relatives of victims of disappearance or murder have waited for years for answers, and each day that passes just deepens their anguish. Each unsolved case represents a failure to provide justice to victims and their families, creating enormous pressure for law enforcement to find answers.

Famous cold cases in Omaha

Despite these obstacles, cold cases have been solved with success in Omaha. Case in point: Ryan Larsen, a little child of 11 who disappeared in May of 2021. Ryan's body was recovered in a rural region outside of Omaha, and the police determined that his death was the result of foul play. The investigation is ongoing, and authorities are eager to hear from anyone who may have information that could lead them to the perpetrator(s).

The necessity for ongoing funding and resources for law enforcement is brought into sharp focus by situations like Ryan's, which serve as a reminder of the urgency of solving cold cases. If law enforcement is given greater resources and time, they will be more likely to solve these crimes and bring closure to the affected families.

Around 500 people have gone missing or been murdered in Omaha, Nebraska since 1980, and the figures are disturbing. Law enforcement has numerous obstacles while attempting to solve these cases, but recent developments in technology and forensic science, as well as the increased availability of information thanks to the Internet, have opened up new avenues of inquiry. Law enforcement agencies can make progress toward their goals with the help of extra resources and support.

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 Omaha Police Department (OPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

Unsolved and "cold" cases are investigated by the Omaha Police Department's Cold Case Squad. The department has a multi-pronged approach to solving cold cases:

In order to find any fresh leads or evidence that may have been missed during the initial investigation, the Cold Case Squad goes over all accessible case files, evidence, and witness testimony.

The squad reinterviews potential witnesses, including those who may have seen or heard something, as well as their loved ones, to discover if their memories have changed or if they have any new information regarding the case.

In order to reexamine evidence and find fresh leads, the team uses cutting-edge forensic equipment and DNA analysis.

The Cold Case Squad collaborates with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to share data and resources.

The team uses social media to solicit information and leads from the general public.

The Omaha Police Department's approach to solving cold cases includes gathering as much information as possible, using cutting-edge forensics, and working with other departments and the public.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

Cold case investigators in Omaha, Nebraska, have access to a variety of tools. Important tools include:

Omaha Police Department (OPD): The OPD's Cold Case Unit investigates and attempts to solve cold cases of homicide and disappearance. Detectives with years of expertise man the team, and they employ a wide range of tools and strategies in their investigations.

Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that provides a tip line and website for people to anonymously provide information concerning criminal activity. The group offers financial incentives for information leading to an individual's or group's arrest or conviction.

The Nebraska State Patrol helps local law enforcement agencies, such as the OPD, with investigations by providing them with manpower and equipment. The agency maintains an Investigations Section with a Cold Case Section.

Omaha is home to an FBI field office where agents from across the country collaborate with their counterparts in local law enforcement to solve crimes, both fresh and cold.

Forensic specialists and private investigators can be engaged by families or law enforcement to look into unsolved instances. Investigators like them utilize their expertise and specialized equipment to sift through the debris of a crime scene in search of clues.

Law enforcement, non-profits, and private eyes are just some of the many Omaha-based options for investigating cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Omaha, Nebraska

Lincoln, Nebraska
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Bellevue, Nebraska
Fremont, Nebraska
Columbus, Nebraska

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Top Omaha Cold Cases