Norfolk, Virginia is a city steeped in history and populated by people from all walks of life. Yet, it has had its share of crime, including cases of missing or murdered people, just like any other city. The Norfolk Police Department has, over the years, looked into a large number of incidents involving missing or killed persons. While some of these cases have been closed, many others continue to be unsolved.
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services reports that there were 250 cases of missing persons in Norfolk between 1980 and 2020. 240 were located, leaving 10 instances unsolved. In addition, 236 people were killed in homicides in Norfolk during the same time frame. As of the year 2020, 126 of these cases had been resolved, while 110 were still pending.
These figures suggest that there are still a significant number of unsolved cold cases in Norfolk. In each instance, we honor a person who was dearly loved and will be sorely lost. The effects on households and the neighborhood are far-reaching.
The Cold Case Unit of the Norfolk Police Department is responsible for reopening cold cases. Detectives with years of expertise staff the team, and they work relentlessly to offer closure to victims' loved ones. Unsolved cases involving homicide, missing persons, or unexplained remains that have lasted at least a year are the primary focus of the unit's efforts.
The Cold Case Unit re-interviews witnesses, analyzes fingerprints and ballistics evidence, and analyzes DNA to solve these cases. The detectives in the team are frequently called upon to re-examine evidence and re-interview witnesses after the original inquiry has shown inconclusive results. They also employ public outreach strategies like social media to find new leads and tips from the general public.
Some long-cold cases have been solved in Norfolk in recent years. A murder case from 1987 was finally solved in 2019 when the North Carolina resident suspected of the crime was apprehended by the Cold Case Unit. A murder case from 1986 was finally solved in 2020 when the culprit, who had been residing in Virginia Beach at the time, was apprehended by the unit.