Several murders and disappearances in Spokane, Washington have gone cold over the years. Almost 40 people have gone missing or been murdered in Spokane since 1980, as documented by NamUs (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). The families of the victims will never get the answers they need or the justice they deserve as long as these cases remain unsolved.
Time is a major obstacle in the investigation of cold cases. Evidence deteriorates, memories fade, and witnesses may relocate or pass away over time. Physical evidence may be lacking, mishandled, or lost in some cases, making them even more challenging to solve.
Spokane's law enforcement agencies press on with their investigations despite these obstacles, hoping to bring closure to the victims and closure to their families. Cold case investigators or units are specialized sections within some police departments. In their efforts to solve these cases, these detectives work relentlessly to reexamine old evidence, reinterview witnesses, and pursue fresh leads.
Justice is sought not only by law enforcement, but also by the loved ones of those who have gone missing or been murdered. They may hire private detectives, look into the cases themselves, or try to get the word out in order to get more information. Families may even offer rewards for information that helps solve the crime.
Spokane County's "Catch a Criminal" initiative is one such initiative. The goal of this campaign is to bring attention to cold cases and encourage people to come forward with information. Images and details from the cases are shown on billboards in an effort to solicit tips from the general population. In numerous instances, the algorithm was able to successfully generate useful tips and leads.