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Attorney General Yost announces formation of cold case unit

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced the formation of a new unit to help solve cold case homicides and unsolved sexual assault cases.

“We can make a difference, even when years have passed since a murder or sexual assault,” Yost said. “Consider how DNA testing advances have unmasked, time and time again, violent criminals who got away with living among us for too long.”

The new Cold Case Unit (CCU), housed within Yost’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), will utilize a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses proven investigative resources and techniques. By using state-of-the-art criminal intelligence gathering and laboratory analysis, as well as expertise in forensic disciplines such as crime scene and cybercrimes, CCU will work with law enforcement departments where cases originated to enhance their investigations.

Strategies offered will be customized to each cold case. For example, CCU could tap BCI’s Investigation Division for interrogations and exhumations; the Laboratory for advanced DNA testing or fingerprint analysis; and the Criminal Intelligence Unit for genealogy research after familial DNA tests or a fresh take on case details to ID new suspects. Such BCI tools have been used to investigate serial killers, identify unknown remains and indict sexual assault perpetrators.

The new unit and BCI’s Lab Division also are teaming up on two sexual assault case initiatives:

In Project SEND, local law enforcement agencies across Ohio will be notified of thousands of older cases in which technological advancements could provide new leads.

In Project SAK, law enforcement agencies will be offered additional investigative or laboratory strategies in cases in which BCI already found DNA, part of Ohio’s effort to test old sexual assault evidence that had been gathering dust in department storage rooms.

“Even if leads were thought to be exhausted in the past, applying current technology and new techniques may help solve old cases,” BCI Superintendent Joe Morbitzer said. “This is a service for all law enforcement agencies. BCI provides its resources to everyone from urban departments with a larger case volume to rural offices with limited resources — all can benefit from this true partnership model.”