Cold cases involving missing or murdered people are not uncommon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or any other city in the United States. 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.
Almost a thousand cases of murder or disappearance in Pittsburgh 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.
Since 1980, there have been over 800 reported occurrences where someone went missing. 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.
Pittsburgh has had over 200 unsolved homicides and hundreds more missing person 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%.
Despite the numbers, police in Pittsburgh have not let up in their efforts to solve these heinous crimes. 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.