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Bismarck, North Dakota Cold Cases

The awful reality of unsolved crimes, known as "cold cases," is present in every community. Even North Dakota's Bismarck isn't an outlier. Bismarck has seen its fair share of unsolved missing persons and homicide cases over the previous few decades.

Around thirty murders and disappearances, some dating back to the 1970s, remain unsolved in North Dakota, according to the state's bureau of criminal investigation. Sadly, Bismarck-specific information is hard to come by.

The longer a crime remains unsolved, the more difficult it is to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Evidence can deteriorate or be lost over time, witnesses can forget, and suspects can relocate or die.

The Bismarck Police Department remains dedicated to solving cold cases and providing closure to victims' families despite these obstacles. There is a special team inside the department tasked with looking into cold cases, such as murders and disappearances that have not been solved.

The department often reexamines evidence and witness testimony with new eyes in order to solve previous cases. Since many of these cases were initially examined, considerable advances have been made in technology and forensic techniques, allowing the department to perform DNA analysis and other testing that were previously unavailable.

The department's efforts are not limited to forensic analysis; they also involve tapping into the knowledge and experience of the local populace. When it comes to gathering intelligence and sharing resources, the Bismarck Police Department frequently works with the city's robust network of law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and advocacy groups. The department also stays in touch with the loved ones of victims and those still missing in order to get their perspective and help with the case.

Famous cold cases in Bismarck

The utilization of public outreach initiatives to find new leads and involve the community in the investigation is another key part of the department's strategy. The department regularly updates social media and other public outreach channels with information about cold cases and requests for public assistance in solving them. They also collaborate with regional media to raise profile and find fresh prospects.

Cold case investigations are difficult, but the Bismarck Police Department is making headway. A woman's body was discovered in the Missouri River in 1981, and the disappearance of a young woman in 1996 are just two of the high-profile cold cases that the department has investigated in recent years. Family members of victims and those still missing can finally rest easy thanks to the department's dedication to utilize cutting-edge forensic technology, local resources, and public outreach initiatives.

The department's cold case unit is still investigating cold cases, some of which are decades old. The agency is dedicated to solving these cases and bringing justice to the victims' families, despite the difficulties inherent to each. It is hoped that more cold cases in Bismarck and across North Dakota will be solved with time and public assistance.

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 Bismarck Police Department (BPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Bismarck Police Department takes a multifaceted approach to solving cold cases. One of the key tactics is to reexamine evidence and witness testimony using modern forensic technology and methods that were unavailable during the initial investigations. Forensic procedures might range from DNA testing to ballistics evaluations.

The agency is also actively working to collaborate with other local entities, such as law enforcement, advocacy, and community groups. The agency works closely with these organizations to pool resources, and it keeps in touch with the relatives of victims and people who have gone missing to ask for their help and perspective.

The department also conducts public outreach programs to find new leads and include the neighborhood in the inquiry. Among these methods is the use of public outreach platforms like social media to update the public on cold case investigations and solicit information from members of the public. To raise awareness and find fresh leads, the division also collaborates with local media.

Finally, the department's cold case unit keeps at work on cold cases, some of which go back decades. The agency is dedicated to solving these cases and bringing justice to the victims' families, despite the difficulties inherent to each.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

Bismarck, North Dakota has a number of resources at its disposal to aid in the resolution of cold cases:

Bismarck, North Dakota, Police Department: The Bismarck Police Department investigates criminal cases, both current and cold, inside the city. They have a special investigative team that investigates unsolved mysteries.

The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation aids local police departments in their investigations, including helping to reopen cold cases.

Collaboration between the Bismarck Police Department, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Burleigh County Sheriff's Office forms the North Dakota Cold Case Task Force. The task force reviews unsolved cases and seeks to create new leads.

NamUs, or the National Missing and Unidentified People System, is a database that tracks people who have gone missing across the country and those whose remains have yet to be recognized. It equips law enforcement and the general public with resources to look for missing persons and identify remains.

The Doe Network is a group of private citizens that work together to help local police departments identify unidentified victims of cold cases. They collect information on missing people and people whose bodies have yet to be recognized, and then try to find a match.

Crime Stoppers: Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that allows citizens to report information concerning criminal activities anonymously. There are financial incentives for information leading to an individual's capture and conviction.

The North Dakota Department of Justice is a state agency that aids local police departments in the state with anything from training to cold case help.

Major cities surrounding Bismarck, North Dakota

Mandan, North Dakota
Dickinson, North Dakota
Jamestown, North Dakota
Minot, North Dakota
Williston, North Dakota

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