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Erie, Pennsylvania Cold Cases

There are unsolved murder and disappearance cases in Erie, Pennsylvania, as there are in many other American cities. 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.

There have been approximately 200 unexplained cases of disappearances or homicides in Erie 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 150 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.

Since 1980, Erie has had over 50 unsolved homicides and numerous missing person investigations. 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 40%.

Despite these numbers, law enforcement authorities in Erie are nonetheless 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 Erie

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.

Despite the difficulties, some cold cases in Erie have been solved. Karen Leclair, a lady who went missing in 2017, is one such instance. Her spouse was arrested for her murder in 2019 after her body was discovered in Lake Erie.

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.

Almost 200 people have gone missing or been murdered in Erie, Pennsylvania since 1980, and the figures are disturbing. 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 Erie Police Department (EPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Erie, Pennsylvania, Police Department uses multiple methods, such as:

The Erie Police Department goes back over old material such witness accounts, crime scene images, and forensic evidence to solve cold cases. They might also re-test DNA evidence using cutting-edge lab equipment or apply cutting-edge analytic methods to previously analyzed data.

With modern technology: DNA and ballistics testing are just two examples of the new types of testing and analysis made possible by technological advancements. Forensic specialists collaborate with the Erie Police Department to investigate crimes and apprehend those responsible.

The Erie Police Department shares information and resources with other law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police. By working together, we can expand our reach and gain access to more specialized tools.

The Erie Police Department reaches out to the public using social media and other community outreach initiatives to solicit information and tips from members of the public. The department's goal in disclosing information regarding old cases is to find new leads and uncover previously unknown details.

The Erie Police Department's Cold Case Team is made up of detectives who have received specialized training and have extensive expertise researching cold cases. These cops are in charge of revisiting and reexamining cold cases.

The Erie Police Department frequently releases information on cold cases to the public via various media, such as news websites and social networking sites. The department hopes that by maintaining public awareness of the cases, they will be able to attract new leads and information that would help bring closure to the investigations.

The Erie Police Department's overall strategy for researching cold cases includes the use of both classic police work and cutting-edge technology, as well as cross-agency coordination and public engagement. The agency is investing time and energy into these cases in the name of fairness for the victims and their loved ones.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

In Erie, Pennsylvania, there are a number of tools at your disposal to investigate cold cases:

The Erie, New York, Police Department maintains a special unit called the Cold Case Unit that investigates cold cases like murders that have never been solved, as well as missing persons and cases involving unidentified remains. Just dial (814) 870-1125 to get in touch with them.

The Pennsylvania State Police have a special division dedicated to investigating cold cases, such as unsolved murders or the disappearance of a loved one. Just dial (717) 783-5599 to get in touch with them.

Volunteers from all across the world work together as part of the Doe Network to help police find missing people and solve cold cases. There's a database of missing and unidentified people, as well as details on cold cases, on their website.

For the benefit of law enforcement, Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization that solicits anonymous tips from the public concerning criminal activity, even in the form of cold cases. Please call (814) 580-8477 to reach Crime Stoppers of Erie County.

NamUs, or the National Missing and Unidentified People System, is a database that aids authorities and families in their search for missing persons and in the identification of remains. Additionally, it offers tools for investigating and finding missing persons.

Expert private investigators: Erie is home to a number of agencies that focus on solving cold cases. Families of the missing, as well as law enforcement organizations, can pay these businesses to help them investigate cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Erie, Pennsylvania

Cleveland, Ohio
Buffalo, New York
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Akron, Ohio
Rochester, New York

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