Stay on top of all things cold cases, advocacy, and true crime with our twice per week newsletter
Minot, North Dakota Cold Cases
The city of Minot, like the rest of North Dakota, has a low crime rate in comparison to the rest of the country. Despite the low crime rate, there are a number of missing and murder cases that have gone unresolved for decades, leaving families and communities in the area with more questions than answers.
At least ten people have gone missing or been murdered in Minot since 1980. Among these are the 1983 disappearance of a 2-year-old boy and the 2015 discovery of the body of a young lady in her apartment. Some of these incidents have been well publicized and caused widespread indignation, while others have mostly passed under the radar.
Several of these crimes happened decades ago, making it difficult to track down potential witnesses or recover crucial evidence. It can also be challenging to acquire new evidence or leads when previous law enforcement bungled the case.
As difficult it may be, the Minot Police Department remains dedicated to investigating these cases and providing justice to the victims' loved ones. The department's cold case section is still looking into them, using modern forensic tools and technology to reexamine old evidence and interview new witnesses.
The agency also keeps lines of communication open with the public in order to generate fresh leads and acquire information, and it works closely with families and community organizations to gather information and offer resources. The public has been successfully engaged in the department's public outreach programs, which have made use of social media and other public outreach technologies.
Barbara Louise Cotton, a 22-year-old college student, vanished in Minot in 1981, making her case one of the city's most famous unsolved mysteries. Cotton was reported missing after he was last seen leaving a pub in the early hours of April 11, 1981. Cotton's body was missing for nearly three years before it was found in a shallow grave by a construction crew working outside of Minot.
Famous cold cases in Minot
Although Cotton's disappearance and murder were initially investigated, the case remains unsolved to this day. The Minot Police Department is dedicated to solving this case and bringing justice to Cotton's killer so that her family can finally rest in peace.
Tina Marie Marcotte, who was 15 at the time, went missing in Minot in 1983; Jeanette L. Wolf, who was 31, was murdered in 1986; and Lisa LeAnne Knight, who was 29 in 1991; all of these crimes remain unresolved. The department is dedicated to solving these and other crimes and providing closure to the victims' loved ones, thus they continue to investigate them.
The Minot Police Department uses a variety of methods, including community involvement, public outreach, and cutting-edge technology and forensics, to solve cold cases. The agency is committed to resolving these cases despite the difficulties inherent in doing so in order to provide victims' loved ones with closure and hold those responsible for these crimes to account.
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 Minot Police Department (MPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?
The Minot Police Department, like other law enforcement agencies, employs an all-out effort to locate and apprehend those responsible for unsolved crimes. This includes re-examining evidence with the help of modern technologies and forensic science, conducting new interviews, and canvassing the community for fresh leads.
The Minot Police Department has a special division called the Cold Case Unit that looks into cold cases that have gone cold for a long time. The detectives who make up the team have extensive expertise with cold case investigations and have specialized training to do so. They also work closely with other departments, forensics professionals, and members of the community to share information and generate fresh leads.
The Minot Police Department uses DNA technology as a primary method for solving cold cases. DNA evidence found at crime scenes or on victims is analyzed and compared to offender databases. By its community outreach efforts, the department hopes to inspire more people to come forward with tips that could lead to the resolution of cold cases.
The detectives of the Minot Police Department also take a "leave no stone unturned" attitude to solving cold cases. This means that they will interview any and all potential witnesses and follow any and all leads until they find the truth.
The Minot Police Department's overarching strategy for researching cold cases is to bring closure to victims and their families by solving unsolved crimes using all available resources, including technology, forensic science, community collaborations, and extensive investigation tactics.
What resources are available to help solve cold cases?
In order to assist the Minot Police Department and other North Dakota law enforcement agencies in solving cold cases, there are a number of resources available.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in North Dakota is a useful resource since it provides forensic and investigative services to local law enforcement agencies. Investigators from BCI can lend a hand in solving difficult cases thanks to their specific knowledge in areas like DNA analysis, crime scene processing, and interview tactics.
The National Amnesty International's National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs) is another useful tool for locating information on missing and unidentified people. This tool can be especially useful for solving cold cases and reuniting missing people with their families.
A database of parolees and probationers is kept by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and it can be used to help solve cold cases.
Also, community outreach and participation can be a useful tool in solving cold cases. The Minot Police Department maintains relationships with local media outlets to raise awareness of cold cases and encourage citizens to come forward with any information or tips they may have related to unsolved crimes.
Cold case investigators in Minot and around North Dakota have access to a wide range of tools, including statewide and national databases, community connections, and more. Authorities have a better chance of bringing those responsible to justice if they pool their resources and work together.
Major cities surrounding Minot, North Dakota
Williston, North Dakota
Dickinson, North Dakota
Bismarck, North Dakota
Mandan, North Dakota
Jamestown, North Dakota