How Memphis Police, Victims Cope with Unsolved Murders


Unsolved cases add safety concerns, anger, and confusion for families of the victims, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. In a feature on Memphis’ 22 unsolved murders in the last year, the newspaper interviews Lt. John Mills, in charge of cold cases for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When leads run out on a case, investigators meet and decide what’s next. They may retrace their steps, canvass the neighborhood and redo interviews depending on the available labor pool. The decision to put a homicide case on the shelf is not made lightly. “When you work so hard and you aren’t able to see the finale — that hurts you, too,” said Mills.

Former Memphis police investigator Bob Wright still is haunted by the puzzles left in pieces, the unsolved cases from his past. “I can remember every unsolved homicide I worked,” he said. “Some cases, you just don’t have a lot of to go on.” Lack of manpower during a rash of killings shifts priority to the ever-growing number of new cases, he said. Memphis homicide numbers are up year-to-date, with 58 as of Wednesday compared with 48 at this time last year. More than ace police work is necessary to lower homicide rates, said activist Stevie Moore. He has been holding Stop the Killing rallies in Memphis since his son Prentice was shot outside a nightclub in 2003. “Police are doing everything they can, and still it’s not enough,” he said. “We’ve got to get the community involved.”

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