Dayton, Ohio, like many other American towns, has its 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.
More than 400 instances of disappearance or murder in Dayton have gone cold 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. About 70% of these cases have been closed, leaving 30% 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.
There have been over 100 unsolved homicides in Dayton since 1980, and many more missing people cases. 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 homicides is significantly lower, hovering around 50%.
Dayton's police force 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.