Like in many other U.S. cities, cold cases have been an ongoing problem in Manchester, New Hampshire. 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 cases of persons going missing or being murdered have gone unsolved in Manchester since 1980. As of March 2023, 54 cold cases dating back to 1980 have been reported in Manchester through the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). Thirty of those incidents include missing persons and twenty-four involve homicide.
The number of unsolved crimes in Manchester has risen steadily throughout the years, with a notable uptick in the 2000s. The Union Leader reported that from 2005-2015, the number of unsolved homicides in Manchester rose from 15 to 35. A growing population, an uptick in opioid addiction and drug-related crime, and modifications to police practices were all blamed for this spike.
The clearance rate for homicide cases in Manchester has been persistently lower than the national norm, despite efforts to solve these cases. According to data from the FBI, the clearance rate for homicides in Manchester was 52.4% in 2020, compared to the national average of 61.6%. This means that over half of homicides in Manchester remain unsolved, a troubling number for both law enforcement and the community.
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 nature of the city is another possible contributor to the longevity of cold cases in Manchester. Many individuals visit or leave Manchester each year due to its popularity as a student and tourist destination. This can make it more challenging to locate potential witnesses and reconstruct what transpired.