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Las Vegas Cold Cases

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Las Vegas, Nevada Cold Cases

Las Vegas, Nevada, is hardly alone among American cities in its perennial problem with cold cases. For years, even decades, families and communities may be left wondering why authorities haven't been able to solve the crime or bring the offender to justice.

Several instances involving missing or murdered people have gone unsolved in Las Vegas since 1980. As of March 2023, 212 cold cases in Las Vegas dating back to 1980 have been reported to the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). There are 127 missing person cases and 85 murder cases among these reports.

The number of unsolved crimes in Las Vegas has risen gradually since the early 2000s, when it saw a sharp uptick. The number of homicides that went unsolved in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, increased from 73 in 2000 to 144 in 2004, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A increasing population, an uptick in gang violence, and adjustments in police tactics were all blamed for this escalation.

The clearance rate for homicide cases in Las Vegas has been persistently lower than the national average, despite efforts to solve these cases. The FBI reports that in 2020, Las Vegas had a lower homicide clearance rate than the rest of the country at 61.2%. This is alarming news for law enforcement and the community as it indicates that over 40% of homicides in Las Vegas have not been solved.

It's possible that the absence of witnesses or physical evidence is making it so difficult to clear cases. Investigators often have few clues to follow, and if no new information or tools become available, a case can fall cold.

The transient population of Las Vegas is another possible contributor to the longevity of cold cases there. Many people visit and leave Las Vegas annually since it is a well-liked tourism hotspot. This can make it more challenging to locate potential witnesses and reconstruct what transpired.

Often times, there is no resolution in sight for cold cases in Las Vegas, leaving the relatives of the victims feeling disillusioned and forlorn. Several people have taken to social media and other online forums in an effort to get the word out about their loved ones' disappearances and hopefully find some answers. The Nevada Child Seekers and the Missing Persons Advocacy Network are just two of the many groups based in Las Vegas that work to aid the loved ones of missing people.

Famous cold cases in Las Vegas

Las Vegas police have begun to work on the issue of cold cases. Unsolved crimes in the Las Vegas area are investigated by the Cold Case Unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. In order to evaluate old evidence and find fresh leads, the unit collaborates closely with other law enforcement organizations and makes use of cutting-edge forensic technology.

Some high-profile cold cases in Las Vegas have been solved in recent years. A man was taken into custody this year and charged with the 1989 murder of a lady whose body was discovered in the desert. The breakthrough occurred when the suspect's DNA was linked to that of a family member in a national DNA database. DNA technology's capacity to shed light on crimes decades after they were committed was on full display in this case.

Law enforcement agencies in Las Vegas and across the country continue to struggle with cold cases. There is, however, reason to believe that more crimes can and will be solved with the help of the community, the application of cutting-edge technology, and the commitment of law enforcement officials.

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 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a special Cold Case Murder Unit to look into cold cases of murder that have yet to be solved. In order to find fresh leads or evidence that may have been ignored during the initial investigation, the unit is manned by seasoned detectives who evaluate all available evidence, witness statements, and case files. The department has a multi-pronged approach to solving cold cases:

The case is reviewed by the Cold Case Homicide Unit to find any new leads or evidence that may have been missed during the initial inquiry.

The team reinterviews potential witnesses, relatives, and others with knowledge of the case to discover whether their memories have altered or if they have any new information.

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

Sharing information and resources with other organizations, the unit collaborates with the FBI and other law enforcement authorities.

The unit uses several platforms to reach out to the public in the hopes that someone may recognize the case and come forward with information.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department includes a Missing People Detail in addition to a Cold Case Murder Unit. Like the Cold Case Murder Unit, the Missing People Detail examines old case files, re-interviews witnesses, and makes use of forensic technology to find fresh clues.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department employs a number of tactics, including the use of cutting-edge forensic technology, partnerships with other organizations and the public, and community outreach, in order to investigate cold cases and find fresh leads.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

It's worth noting that in Las Vegas, Nevada, there are a number of services available to investigate and perhaps solve cold cases:

Cold Case Unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) examines homicide and missing person investigations that have gone cold in the Las Vegas area. They employ investigators who focus on revisiting cold cases and collaborating with regional and national organizations to find answers.

The Department of Public Safety in the state of Nevada is in charge of the state's DNA database and provides forensic services to local law enforcement organizations. In Las Vegas, there is a forensic laboratory that offers services like DNA testing and fingerprint analysis that can lead to new leads in cold cases.

For families and police enforcement in Nevada looking for missing loved ones, the Nevada Missing People Clearinghouse is a valuable resource. They compile information about missing people and try to get the word out in the hopes of finding them.

Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit group that pays out rewards for information that leads to the identification, arrest, and conviction of criminals. The Las Vegas branch of the organization collaborates with local law enforcement to investigate and solve crimes, including unsolved cold cases.

Some Las Vegas private investigative organizations focus specifically on solving cold cases. These businesses can collaborate with victims' loved ones, law enforcement, and other sources to collect data and identify potential leads that could lead to the resolution of cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Las Vegas, Nevada

Henderson, Nevada
North Las Vegas, Nevada
Boulder City, Nevada
Mesquite, Nevada
Pahrump, Nevada

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