A cold case is a crime or suspected crime that has not yet been solved and hasn’t been the subject of a recent criminal investigation. Cold cases may be left open for the possibility of new evidence to help progress the investigation and uncover the truth. The National Institute of Justice defines a cold case as “any case whose probative investigative leads have been exhausted. In essence, this means a case that is only a few months old may be defined as being ‘cold.’” The TruePeopleSearch Insights team has created the definitive list of the most infamous cold case in each state.
It’s estimated that there are 250,000 unsolved murders in the United States, and that number increases by around 6,000 each year. According to FBI data, only 45% of violent crimes result in arrest and prosecution, and only 62% of murders and 35% of sexual assaults are ever solved. These statistics reveal that many cases fall through the cracks and go cold.
The U.S. Department of Justice considers cold cases to be a crisis. Tom McAndrew, who served as one of the experts on the Cold Case Investigation Working Group, stated that “cold cases constitute a crisis situation, for all unsolved homicides potentially have offenders who have never been apprehended. History and research show that a violent offender will likely repeat.
While newer data is not yet available, Project Cold Case provides fascinating insights into the homicide clearance rates from 1980-2008 by state. “Clearance” means that the case was solved. Here are the states with the lowest clearance rates, meaning that they have the most unsolved cases:
It’s believed that the oldest cold case ever solved was the murder of Margaret “Peggy” Beck, a 16-year-old who was raped and killed at a Girl Scout camp in Colorado in 1963. She was a camp counselor at the time. Her tent mate had gotten sick and spent the night at the infirmary, so she was alone at the time of the assault. Advances in genetic technology have finally led to a crack in the case, and an arrest warrant has been issued. DNA evidence has linked 80-year-old James Raymond Taylor to the case. Investigators were able to compare the evidence to genetic profiles in online consumer databases, which led them to Taylor. It is believed that this is the oldest cold case in the world to have been solved through genetic genealogy technology. However, Taylor has not been apprehended: He was last known to be in Las Vegas in 1976, and it’s unknown whether he is still alive.