Cold case investigations tend to make for good TV shows. Although in many of these shows the police relentlessly hunt down criminals who have gone undetected for decades, the reality can be very different.
The Dallas Morning News recently wrote about the torture endured by a family over the killing of Camille Norman that took place 17 years ago in Dallas, where, notwithstanding promises made years ago, the local police department still has no cold case unit.
There are many stories like this throughout Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported the Texas Department of Public Safety has just launched a website “dedicated to solving cold case murder investigations across the state of Texas.”
The site contains details of 68 cases that date back to 1978. These cases include the random killing of Marianne Wilkinson on December 9, 2007 and that of Chandra Payton, a 20-year-old who was found stabbed to death at Body Gear in Addison, where she worked, back in 1992.
These cases are being investigated by the DPS’s criminal investigative unit, the Texas Rangers, who will concentrate on picking up cases smaller cities can’t pursue, reported the Dallas Morning News.
DPS Director Steven McCraw said in press release that “our goal for this webpage –- and the investigative efforts supporting it –- is to shine a new light on these crimes, so they are not forgotten. We are committed to bringing these ruthless criminals to justice and to bringing some amount of closure to the families involved.”
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper Lonny Haschel, said the top 12 cases will rotate in and out, in a bid to keep those cold cases alive.
“We want to let folks know they’re still open,” Haschel said in a recent interview.
DNA is hardly a new breakthrough, but it’s amazing how many smaller police forces still lack cold case units that can use this technology to look again at unsolved crimes from the past. As well as solving cold cases, DNA is highlighting more and more miscarriages of justice in Texas and beyond.
Earlier this month, in Corsicana, Texas, a 58-year-old man walked free from jail after serving almost 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
Randolph Arledge was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the killing of Carolyn Armstrong in 1984. However, a state district judge in Corsicana recently agreed with prosecutors and Arledge’s criminal defense attorneys that he could no longer be considered guilty of the crime after new DNA tests tied someone else to the killing.