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Philadelphia Cold Cases

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Cold Cases

There are unsolved murder and disappearance cases in Philadelphia, 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.

More than 2,000 cases of murder or disappearance in Philadelphia since 1980 have not been resolved. Several of these cases have not been solved despite efforts by law enforcement and families to find answers despite technological and other breakthroughs.

Almost 1,800 cases involving missing people have been documented since 1980. 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.

Philadelphia has had over 200 unsolved homicides and thousands more 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 killings is lower, hovering around 60%.

Notwithstanding these numbers, law enforcement in Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia

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.

Notwithstanding these obstacles, cold cases have been solved with success in Philadelphia. In 2014, police brutally attacked a 16-year-old named Darrin Manning. A settlement was finally struck in 2019 after years of investigation, giving Manning and his family a sense of justice.

Not only do unsolved instances like Darrin's demonstrate the need for ongoing funding and resources for law enforcement, but they also remind us of the necessity 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 2,000 people have gone missing or been murdered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1980, and the data underlying these incidents are deeply troubling. 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 Philadelphia Police Department (PPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

Among the many methods the Philadelphia Police Department uses to dig into cold cases are:

Many cold cases haven't been solved because crucial pieces of evidence or witness testimony weren't collected or recorded at the time of the crime. In order to find any lost chances, the Philadelphia Police Department looks over all of the evidence and statements from witnesses.

With modern technology: DNA and ballistics testing are just two examples of the new types of testing and analysis made possible by technological advancements. The Philadelphia Police Department collaborates with forensics professionals to investigate crimes and find perpetrators.

The Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia Police Department reaches out to the public through many channels in order to receive tips and information. The department's goal in disclosing information regarding old cases is to find new leads and uncover previously unknown details.

The Philadelphia Police Department's Cold Case Murder Unit is specifically tasked with investigating and solving cold cases. Members of this squad have expertise in solving cold cases and have received specialized training in this area.

In order to bring attention to these cases, the Philadelphia Police Department frequently releases press releases and social media posts on cold cases. 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 Philadelphia Police Department's approach to solving cold cases is multifaceted, involving not only the use of time-tested methods but also cutting-edge tools, interagency cooperation, 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 order to assist in the resolution of cold cases, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania provides a number of resources. Some of them are listed below:

The Philadelphia Police Department's Cold Case Unit is specifically tasked with examining cold cases of homicide that have gone unresolved. In order to help solve cold cases, the unit reviews and investigates previous cases, re-interviews witnesses, and makes use of cutting-edge forensic technologies.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office maintains a special unit dedicated to investigating and prosecuting cold cases, known as "cold cases," in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department. The unit also helps find witnesses and offers comfort to victims' loved ones.

Philadelphia Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that pays cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of criminals in unresolved and cold cases.

The Pennsylvania State Police's Criminal Investigative Assessment Unit helps other law enforcement organizations look into cold cases. The team employs a wide range of scientific and technological investigation methods in its pursuit of justice.

Evidence obtained at crime scenes can be put through DNA testing at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office's Forensic Biology Section. The organization works to retest evidence from historical cases using modern DNA testing techniques, which has proved an invaluable tool in solving cold cases.

To help solve cold cases, the non-profit The Vidocq Society convenes teams of specialists in law enforcement, forensics, and criminology. The group gets together on a regular basis in Philadelphia to talk about cold cases and make suggestions for how to solve them.

These are but a few of the tools at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's disposal for solving cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wilmington, Delaware
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Reading, Pennsylvania
Trenton, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey

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Top Philadelphia Cold Cases

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