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Madison Cold Cases

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Madison, Wisconsin Cold Cases

Many reports of people going missing or being murdered in Madison, Wisconsin date back to at least 1980. There are more than 30 active cases in Madison listed in the National System for Missing and Unidentified People (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.

Madison's police departments are committed to investigating these homicides and bringing those responsible to justice, despite the difficulties they face. 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 Madison 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 Madison

The 1979 slaying of Evelyn Hartley is one of the cold cases that has been solved in Madison. Hartley, only 15 years old, vanished while babysitting for a family. Hartley's body was never located despite a thorough search and inquiry at the time, and the matter remained open for nearly 35 years.

In 2015, new technology allowed for a retesting of DNA evidence found at the crime site. At the time of the murder, the suspect, who was a Minnesota resident, was already serving time for another offense. He was arrested and charged with Hartley's murder, which provided closure for his family and highlighted the need to keep working to solve cold cases.

As a result, there are still unidentified missing persons and unsolved homicide cases from 1980 in Madison, Wisconsin. 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 Madison Police Department (MPD)'s strategy for investigating unsolved cases?

In Madison, Wisconsin, the MPD has a specific team that looks into cold cases. These detectives have specific training in cold case investigations and have experience working on long-term investigations.

When looking into cold cases, the MPD's Cold Case Section employs a number of methods. 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.

The Madison Police Department's Cold Case Unit works with other agencies, such as the Wisconsin Department of Justice, to share data and resources. The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office and the Wisconsin Crime Lab are also important partners in the investigation process.

The Cold Case Section of the MPD actively seeks out the public in an effort to unearth fresh information and leads in cold case investigations. The public is encouraged to contact the unit via a special tip line in order to provide leads in cold cases. 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.

The Cold Case Unit of the MPD employs cutting-edge forensic technology in addition to more conventional means of investigation in order to provide closure to cold 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.

When examining cold cases, the MPD's Cold Case Section 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. The MPD's dedication to solving cold cases and providing closure to victims' loved ones continues unabated.

What resources are available to help solve cold cases?

In order to help solve cold cases in Madison, Wisconsin, there are a number of options accessible. The following are only a few examples:

The Cold Case Unit of the Madison Police Department investigates cold cases, such as those involving homicides and disappearances. Police officers assigned to the team receive specialized training in cold case investigation and are equipped with cutting-edge tools and methods to expedite their work.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice works to help local police departments solve cold cases by providing resources and guidance. The Cold Case Review Team is there to help agencies who are looking into cold cases by offering advice and resources.

To report and get information on missing persons and unidentified human remains, families, law enforcement, and the general public can contact the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children and Adults. They also aid police in identifying remains in missing person cases.

The Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators is a group of law enforcement officials in the state who have chosen to focus their careers on the investigation of homicides. As well as working with other law enforcement agencies, they also offer training and assistance to their members.

Madison's Crime Stoppers is part of a national network of similar organizations that allow people to anonymously disclose information about criminal activity in exchange for a cash reward. They collaborate closely with law enforcement and provide incentives for information leading to an arrest or conviction in an effort to crack cases, even cold ones.

Major cities surrounding Madison, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Rockford, Illinois
Dubuque, Iowa
La Crosse, Wisconsin

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