The city of Richmond, Virginia, has a long history and a multicultural population. Yet, it has had its share of crime, including cases of missing or murdered people, just like any other city. Many missing persons and homicide investigations have been conducted by the Richmond Police Department. While some of these cases have been closed, many others continue to be unsolved.
From 1980 through 2020, 470 reports of missing persons were made in the Richmond area, as documented by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. 452 persons were found, leaving 18 open cases. During that same time period, 631 homicides were reported in Richmond. As of the year 2020, 403 had been solved while 228 were still under investigation.
These figures show that many cold cases in Richmond have yet to be solved. 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.
Unresolved crimes are investigated by the Cold Case Unit of the Richmond Police Department. 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 Richmond in recent years. A murder case from 1987 was finally solved in 2018 after the defendant, who had been living in Florida, was apprehended by the Cold Case Unit. The culprit, who had been living in North Carolina since 1975, was apprehended in 2019 and the investigation was closed.