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Texas Rangers Use Internet To Breathe New Life Into Cold Case Homicides 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-life dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Katherine Rosenberg reports that the Texas Department of Public Safety has unveiled a new web site dedicated to unsolved cold case homicides to make sure the victims are not forgotten and to try to catch a break in even the coldest of cases. DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger says continual strides in technology make focusing on cold cases more important than ever because there are more opportunities to solve them with each emerging process or device. The web site was created because the more readily available information is the more people may be apt to pick up the phone and report what they know. 'It helps to refresh these cases in the public's mind and hopefully we'll shed new light on it. In some cases, we can also re-examine evidence if there's an opportunity or need there as well,' says Cesinger. One featured case from 1993 is Kathleen Suckley who was 29 when her throat was slashed and she was stabbed about 40 times inside her rented duplex, while her two sons, ages 4 and 1, were home. Officials said they interviewed numerous witnesses but never got enough information for an arrest. Capt. Tim Wilson maintains that in any homicide case there always is someone who knows something. At some point, he believes, the murderer will tell someone out of guilt or pride, or simply the pressure of holding it in. Cesinger points out that over time as relationships change, if prompted by something like the website or a news article, that confidant finally may come forward. 'I think we owe it to Kathleen to be this tenacious. It drives me nuts that somebody can do this and get away with it,' says Kathleen's mother-in-law Luann Suckley. 'I think the website is great ... maybe someone will finally speak up because I'm tired of sitting back and waiting.'"
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Texas Rangers Use Internet To Breathe New Life Into Cold Case Homicides

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  • And IANADPS detective, but I am not without an impressive resume'. I've some perfectly brewed coffee, a mild Investigative Discovery addiction, and I've been reading /. all morning: forty stab wounds is personal. It's a spurned lover.
    • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:16AM (#43061221)
      Multiple stab wounds doesn't mean it's personal. It means the killer was extremely angry for reasons we do not know. But I agree it is probably personal, which means the investigation should focus on former lovers and close family members.
      • Yeah, we can probably dismiss current lovers.

        The extreme anger thing? Hmmm. That's usually personal. You don't seek out a random victim to stab them 40 times or more. That kind of rage is usually reserved for an ex-spouse, a hated and detested sibling, an abusive parent - something of that sort. Unless a rapist used and abused a random victim, who then laughed at his inadequate equipment. "Aren't you started yet, Shorty? Who ya gonna rape with that 1/2 inch stub?"

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          The extreme anger thing? Hmmm. That's usually personal. You don't seek out a random victim to stab them 40 times or more.

          You do if you're a homicidal maniac, a serial killer or just plain psychotic.

      • But I agree it is probably personal, which means the investigation should focus on former lovers and close family members.

        Was looking into being a LEO(law enforcement) a few years ago, couldn't cut it because I broke my back during the training, it's very hard to complete the training when you can't run or hardly walk. In Canada LEO training is about half of what a marine takes to get on the force. Really you'd investigate everyone, but at 40 stab wounds? It could also be someone with a deep psychosis or mental health issue as well. It's getting stuck in the "well it probably is..." that limits your field of view and screws up your investigation.

        One thing I always did find odd between Canada and the US with the investigation of homicides. In the US you'll abandon a murder after a period of time, in Canada we never do, ever. There's always someone working on the case, there are cold case teams that are dedicated to it. One of the instructors I had, had a pretty good example of this about a major drug runner from the US, who wanted someone removed and suggested killing the guy in Toronto. Which was quickly put down by his partner. He pointed out that in Canada they'll hunt you down till the end of your days. While in the US they'll give up after a few months. Part of the reason is, in Canada an indictable offence(the equivalent of a felony) never expires. And there is no such thing as a I/O at the provincial level.

        What I find odd about this article though, is that the rangers are doing what we've been doing up here in Canada since the 70's at a lower tech level(they used flash bulletins sent by intra BBS memos via CPIC). Then again, you guys copied our crime stoppers program too. Well if it works, it works right? But pretending that it's new and shiny is just silly.

        • Murder does not have a statute of limitations in the US. It's just harder to solve cold cases, especially when they're crime-related (as most murders in the US are - drug deals gone wrong, etc.).
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      And IANADPS detective, but I am not without an impressive resume'. I've some perfectly brewed coffee, a mild Investigative Discovery addiction, and I've been reading /. all morning: forty stab wounds is personal. It's a spurned lover.

      Or a deranged person with a semi-automatic knife thrower with large capacity clips, person that mistaken the duplex for a school?
      Or a flock of angry birds with a slingshot?

  • breathe your breath (Score:3, Informative)

    by amoeba1911 (978485) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @10:59AM (#43061143) Homepage
    You breathe breaths. One's a noun and the other is a verb. They're pronounced very differently. English isn't even my native language, but even I know the difference.
  • Texas today (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:00AM (#43061151)

    Right now, there's an assault case in Texas waiting on somebody coming forward. A young lesbian parent at a public playground was seriously beaten by a much larger male parent. This case has not been classified as a hate crime by local authorities despite that being clearly in line with Texas law, and those same authorities appear to be quite comfortable with letting this become a cold case. It looks like the case will only come to justice if some non-police person fingers the perp, and does so loudly enough that the local prosecutor can't ignore it.
              It's laudable that Texas is taking steps to clear some cold case murders, but it will be up to some of the very same people who implemented this to figure out what their state government should do when a local government clearly doesn't want to help and thinks it has unlimited authority to decide which laws to follow, and judging by this recent assault case, they had better start planning for that problem yesterday.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Crimes against gays aren't a special category, and police following normal procedures isn't discrimination. Know what happens to people who insist they are special? They get beat down.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Crimes against gays aren't a special category

        Not automatically; only crimes against gays because they're gay, you know, other than denying them the same rights as anyone else. I'm surprised that Texas has hate crime laws, though they clearly need them more than most other states.

      • Know what happens to people who insist they are special? They get beat down.

        What?!

    • by mordred99 (895063)

      Huh? How can this "automatically" be a hate crime? First off a hate crime is defined as being the motive of the crime being derived by hate of a protected class. How can you determine motive if you do not have a suspect in custody? Just because someone happened to be gay, and was murdered, does not mean it was a hate crime. Where are you getting your information? The media? Since we know how reliable that information is.

      Let me turn this around on you. Me being white, and someone breaks into my house

    • Re:Texas today (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @05:58PM (#43063615)
      Incidentally, I googled this to see if there was an actual case out there (this being the internet and all). This case does exist [wfaa.com] and the woman in question was assaulted a bit over two weeks ago. My view on it though is that it is a simple though brutal assault and battery (whatever the Texas equivalent is). It shouldn't matter whether the pain was inflicted because the attacker thought she was homosexual or because the attacker wanted her watch. It should matter that the assault was done in front of a bunch of children.

      I think that the "hate crime" aspect is a huge red herring. It's useful for ascribing motive in court, but criminalizing bigotry is just a 1984 thoughtcrime thing. We shouldn't be trying to police what people fear and hate. We should be policing what brutal and harmful actions they do in response to that fear and hate. One doesn't need to classify assault and battery as a "hate crime" in order to do that. It's already illegal with suitable punishments in store.

      As to the accusation of the police department dragging its feet? There's not enough information out there yet for me to decide if the police department is ignoring the case (unless the poster I'm replying to has more information). It's worth noting that there's probably a couple of people who know a lot about who this man is, there supposedly was a female companion and presumably a child associated with this man, but the group may be unknown to the other people at the park. At that point, you're going on eyewitness accounts and whatever evidence was left behind by the assailant and his group. That might or might not be enough to go on.
    • I know of at least two lesbians that practically ask for a beating every time they interact with a male. If a man behaved and spoke to other men as these 'women' do they would have been beaten to death years ago.
  • How, exactly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:05AM (#43061185)

    Aside from the bad grammar of TFA, I found this little puzzle: "DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger says continual strides in technology make focusing on cold cases more important than ever because there are more opportunities to solve them with each emerging process or device."

    How do "continual strides in technology" make focusing on cold cases "more important?" I can see how it might make focusing on cold cases more convenient or more efficient or more productive. It doesn't make it more important. Old unsolved cases become less important over time because it becomes increasingly likely that the perpetrator has either already been imprisoned on a different charge, has died or has changed their life so that they are less of a danger to the public.

    • There is no minimum IQ standard for a spokes woman (person). There is no minimum IQ for a police person, either. The spokeswoman was running at the head, tossing words around, without giving any thought to the real meanings of the words. That's muck like politicians running for office. Toss out the soundbytes, mix and match until you get an appealing mixture, then watch the votes or support roll in.

      I agree, cold cases are relatively unimportant, for the reasons you give. But, relative is relative. The

  • Rat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hEpen (96597) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:51AM (#43061397)

    "At some point, he believes, the murderer will tell someone out of guilt or pride, or simply the pressure of holding it in."

    Dostoyevsky gently smiles from his grave.

  • They're taking the time to investigate homicides?! If they had focused on what they were SUPPOSED TO be doing, maybe they wouldn't have done so poorly in the 2012 season.
  • by barakn (641218) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @01:17PM (#43062043)

    They just need Chuck Norris. He'll close every cold case with his fists.

    • by cffrost (885375)

      They just need Chuck Norris. He'll close every cold case with his fists.

      Only one fist. He needs his other hand to hold a flashlight for the next ~999.75 years.

  • The web site was created because the more readily available information is the more people may be apt to pick up the phone and report what they know.

    Their email in-box is probably full and they are still waiting for the phone to ring.

  • Okay, you got old cases, that have gone nowhere. Now, you are hoping that the chance that someone will browse the website and be able to give a clue to an old case? Seriously?

    I guess this makes old detectives feel better for not solving cases during their careers, that by putting this out there, maybe, just maybe, after cars start flying, someone with info will browse the website and say something!!!!

     

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @02:22PM (#43062503) Homepage Journal

      I don't hold out a lot of hope for the majority of cases. But, shit happens. Some dude beats the crap out of his old lady, and runs at the mouth a little while he's beating her. Over the next several days, she gives some thought to his comments, puts three and five together, and wonders if eight is the right answer. Maybe it was her boyfriend that killed the old lady down the street all those years ago? She was bludgeoned with a hammer, after all, and Bubba just threatened me with a hammer . . . I'll just make an anonymous call to the investigators, and see if they can make sense of it.

      If they solve two or ten percent of the old cases, that's cool. If they don't solve any cases, well, I don't see a huge loss here.

      • Exactly. This sort of thing costs next to nothing to run - maybe two full-time employees, max, once it's set up - and could potentially pay off big time.
  • [insert baseball joke]

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI

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