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Tulsa Cold Cases

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Tulsa, Oklahoma Cold Cases

Tulsa, Oklahoma, like many other American cities, 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 cases of disappearance or murder in Tulsa 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 60% of these cases have been closed, leaving 40% 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.

Tulsa has had over 100 unsolved homicides and numerous missing people investigations since 1980. 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%.

Despite these numbers, law enforcement in Tulsa is committed to bringing these instances to justice. 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.

Famous cold cases in Tulsa

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.

In spite of these obstacles, cold cases have been solved with success in Tulsa. In 1987, a 33-year-old lady named Karen Frei was discovered dead in her apartment. Someone was finally arrested and charged with her murder in 2018 after years of inquiry and DNA testing.

The necessity for ongoing funding and resources for law enforcement is brought into sharp focus by situations like Karen's, which serve as a reminder of the urgency of solving cold cases. If law enforcement is given greater resources and time, they will be more likely to solve these crimes and bring closure to the affected families.

Around 400 people have gone missing or been murdered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since 1980, and not a single one of these cases has been solved. Law enforcement has numerous obstacles while attempting to solve these cases, but recent developments in technology and forensic science, as well as the increased availability of information thanks to the Internet, have opened up new avenues of inquiry. The pursuit of justice for victims and their families can continue if law enforcement is given the means to do it.

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 Tulsa Police Department (TPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Tulsa Police Department, like many others, uses a variety of techniques when looking into cold cases. The following are some of the methods they employ:

Physical evidence that was either inconclusive or disregarded the first time around can now be reexamined with the use of modern technology in the hopes that it will yield new information.

When statements from witnesses are reviewed, it's possible that those who were hesitant or unable to testify before feel more comfortable doing so.

Sharing of information and resources is facilitated by partnerships between the Tulsa Police Department and other organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

The department has taken to social media in an effort to shed light on cold cases and compel members of the public to come forward with any information they may have.

Interviewees who did not provide any valuable information during the initial interview may be contacted again for a follow-up interview.

Tulsa police have formed a special team to investigate cold cases, or those that have gone without resolution for an extended period of time. Members of this team have extensive expertise and education in solving cold cases.

An incentive for potential witnesses to come forward is the department's reward program, which pays money for information that helps close cold cases.

The Tulsa Police Department is committed to using all available resources to bring closure to the families of victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their acts, despite the difficulty and length of time involved in researching cold cases.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

Tulsa, Oklahoma, is home to a number of resources devoted to the investigation of cold cases. Among these are:

The Tulsa Police Department maintains a special squad devoted to investigating cold cases. Expert detectives operate in the unit to investigate cold cases and find fresh leads.

The OSBI is the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and it helps local police with cold case investigations. Investigators on their staff focus on forensics and are always on the lookout for fresh leads in unsolved cases.

Unsolved homicide and missing person cases in Oklahoma are documented in the Oklahoma Cold Case Database. The OSBI is responsible for its upkeep, and anyone can use it.

The Tulsa Crime Stoppers program enables citizens to anonymously report criminal activities. There are financial incentives for information leading to an individual's capture and conviction.

Supporting and advocating for relatives of homicide victims and those who have gone missing, this group is called Families of Homicide Victims and Missing People. They collaborate closely with law enforcement to conduct in-depth probes of all relevant instances.

Many unsolved cases have been cleared up thanks to the development of DNA analysis techniques. Tulsa police are able to use Genetic evidence to positively identify suspects and close cases.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, is home to a number of institutions devoted to bringing closure to cold cases. Supportive communities, law enforcement, and victim families are essential to the success of these initiatives.

Major cities surrounding Tulsa, Oklahoma

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Owasso, Oklahoma
Sand Springs, Oklahoma
Jenks, Oklahoma
Bixby, Oklahoma

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