Last month, a murderer named Edmond Jay Marr was sentenced to prison in California, bringing to an end the first case carried by the Los Angeles Police Department’s cold-case unit from investigation to conviction to sentencing. Mystery author Michael Connelly writes in the Los Angeles Times that Marr pleaded guilty and got 16 years for killing Elaine Graham in 1983. Graham was an attractive 29-year-old nurse, the mother of an infant daughter. She was abducted on March 17, 1983, after dropping off her baby at a caretaker’s home and heading to a writing class.
Connelly writes, “It’s a classic policing dilemma: Is it better to allocate resources toward stopping crimes or to have the resources firmly in place and ready to solve crimes after they occur? It’s a question for police department deployment specialists to ponder. But I would suggest that while doing so, a visit to a courtroom to watch one of these cases come to an end would be in order. The visitor would learn that a city that forgets its victims is a city that is lost. The courtroom where Marr was sentenced in April was filled with people who still remembered her and cared, including one of the original detectives who worked the case in 1983 and many of Graham’s childhood friends and family members. Cold-case detectives tell me that there is no such thing as closure, that a violent death leaves a hole in loved ones and even communities that can never be completely filled. They see those holes every time they reopen an old case. They say there may not be closure, but there always are answers that can be found and sometimes there is even justice. Sometimes that has to be enough. Cases may grow old and gather dust but they never go cold – not for some people.”