The arrests of serial homicide suspects in Indiana and Virginia have prompted cold case investigators around the U.S. to dig through files of unsolved murders, reports USA Today. Police in Texas and North Carolina are looking for killings similar to those linked to Darren Vann, under investigation for at least seven killings of women in and around Gary, In. Investigators in Virginia are seeing if unsolved killings could be connected to Jesse Matthew, charged in the Sept. 13 disappearance of Hannah Graham in Charlottesville, Va. “If you know there is credibility to what (a suspect) is telling other people because he is recovering bodies, and when you have someone like that who is saying he has been on a spree for a long time, that tends to get your blood pumping,” says Lt. Scott Ehlert, head of the Austin, Texas, cold case squad. “You immediately want to look into unsolved cases you have that occurred in the time frame when he would have been in your jurisdiction, and then look to see if those cases are similar as to his MO.”
For many Americans, their perception of cold case investigators was shaped by the CBS television series “Cold Case,” which ran from 2003 to 2010. “No cold case of 30 years gets solved in 45 minutes with three commercials,” says Joseph Giacalone, retired commanding officer of the Bronx cold case squad in New York City. A cop for more than 20 years, he is now an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a consultant.