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Charleston, West Virginia Cold Cases

Many people have been reported missing or slain in Charleston, West Virginia, and the earliest of these incidents dates back to the 1980s. There are more than 20 active cases in Charleston listed in the National Missing and Unidentified People System (NamUs). 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, mistreated, or lost in some cases, making them even more challenging to investigate.

Despite setbacks, Charleston's police force is committed to bringing those responsible to justice and providing closure to the victims' loved ones. 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.

In recent years, technology has also played a crucial role in the resolution of cold cases. DNA testing and genealogy studies have allowed for the solution of many cold cases. Genetic evidence found at a crime scene could be retested with updated lab equipment, or new leads could be uncovered through genetic genealogy studies.

Several cold cases in Charleston and across the country have not been solved despite these developments. Families of those who have gone missing or been killed keep looking for answers in the hopes that someday their loved ones may be recognized and justice served.

Famous cold cases in Charleston

Melinda "Mindy" Elkins's murder in 1986 was one of the city of Charleston's cold cases that was eventually solved. Elkins, only 17 years old, was found strangled and sexually raped in her bedroom. The crime was unresolved for over 30 years despite a thorough investigation at the time.

Crime scene DNA was retested with updated lab equipment in 2017, resulting in the arrest of a suspect. The man suspected of killing Elkins was located in South Carolina and subsequently arrested on murder charges. Elkins' family was able to finally rest easy after the case was solved, and it highlighted the significance of persistent attempts to solve cold cases.

In conclusion, there are still unidentified missing persons and unsolved murders in Charleston, West Virginia that date back to the 1980s. Every possible effort is being made to find new clues and information in these instances by law enforcement, families, and loved ones. While technological advancements have been important in solving certain instances, many more continue to go unsolved, depriving victims' families of the closure they need and the justice they deserve. Closure for families isn't the only benefit of solving cold cases; it also aids in victim accountability and justice delivery.

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 Charleston Police Department (CPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

The Charleston Police Department (CPD) has a specialized cold case squad that looks into violent crimes including murders that have yet to be solved or even found. Detectives with extensive experience who have received specialized training in the investigation of cold cases make up the unit's team.

The Charleston Police Department's Cold Case Unit employs a number of techniques for investigating cold cases. One of the key strategies is to examine all pieces of evidence, from physical objects to witness accounts to written records. The team also seeks to track down potential witnesses and develop fresh leads in the investigation.

In addition to traditional investigative methods, the CPD's cold case unit also uses advanced forensic technologies to help solve cases. The team may conduct forensic testing, such as DNA analysis, to help identify suspects or establish a connection between a piece of physical evidence and a specific person.

The Charleston Police Department's Cold Case Unit collaborates extensively with other departments, as well as with local groups and victim advocacy organizations. The unit works with these other entities to exchange data and generate fresh leads in cold cases.

The Charleston Police Department's (CPD) cold case unit also operates a dedicated hotline that the public can call with tips or information regarding unresolved cases to assist create new leads. The team also makes use of digital channels like social media and online forums to raise awareness about cold cases and solicit tips from the public.

When examining cold cases, the CPD's cold case team considers a wide range of factors. The team is able to develop fresh leads and make headway on cases that have been unsolved for years by combining traditional investigative tactics with modern forensic technologies and community involvement strategies.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

Many tools exist in Charleston, West Virginia, to aid in the investigation of cold cases:

The West Virginia State Police have an active cold case unit that looks into cold cases. As part of their collaboration with local law enforcement, they give tools like forensic analysis and investigation strategies to help resurrect cold cases.

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office maintains a cold case unit that looks into unsolved murders, missing persons, and unidentified cadaver cases. They exchange information and resources with the West Virginia State Police and other law enforcement authorities.

The Charleston Police Department not only works closely with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State Police, but they also conduct their own investigations into cold cases.

West Virginia State Police maintain an online database of cold cases, including murders, disappearances, and unidentified bodies. Each incidence is documented in the database along with its time and place of occurrence, the victim's name and physical description, and any other relevant information.

Assistance to law enforcement and families of missing children is provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They provide tools like age progression technologies and aid in spreading word about missing person instances.

DNA testing: new DNA analysis methods have helped solve numerous unsolved crimes. When it comes to solving cold cases, the West Virginia State Police have teamed up with a number of private labs to analyze Genetic evidence.

Anonymous tips to law enforcement authorities are provided through Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit organization. They have prize money set aside for information that helps solve cold cases.

Major cities surrounding Charleston, West Virginia

Huntington, West Virginia
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Beckley, West Virginia
Morgantown, West Virginia
Wheeling, West Virginia

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