Since 2002, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Unit has been working hard to solve 110 homicide cases. Some of them date back to the 1960s, and investigators say combing through the extensive files is a methodical and slow process.
“Part of working those types of cases, you have to truly be intimately involved in a case,” said Capt. Anthony April, commander of the ABI. “Like, everything from the report to the interview, to looking at lab reports and those sorts of things.”
Now, as the result of state-ordered budget cuts, the four-member team has been disbanded, taking a combined 130 years of experience with them. Their last day at the bureau was June 30.
“We’re still going to maintain possession of the cold cases unless we get requests from some municipality agencies indicating they would like to take responsibility,” said April.
The Cold Case Unit had successfully solved nine homicides in 13 years. Another 27 were closed because investigators didn’t find them viable for further investigation. Seventy-four cases are still considered viable.
“We’re still going to do what we need to do to solve these cases. Yes, it was a huge, huge loss to the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Public Safety,” April said. “Not just for us, but for those family members out there. Those four investigators worked tirelessly, putting in hundreds and hundreds of hours trying to solve some of these cases.”
April says troopers are encouraging the public to help solve these cases. He said if anyone knows anything about a cold case, they should call AST or Crime Stoppers. When the ABI gets a tip or a lead, they will assign an investigator to follow up on it. That, he says, is a challenge.
“We still have active cases that that investigator is currently working on,” he said. “So, if you have a homicide for instance, that’s going to get priority over some of these cold cases just based on the sheer manpower that we do have.”
It isn’t just law enforcement hoping to solve these cases. Robert Remy is a private investigator with the Alaska Investigations Group. He says he’s worked on some cold cases before and expects some of the ABI’s cases will make their way to his office.
“If we can get all the necessary releases, all the case files from law enforcement, if they’re ok with turning over what they have, that would be great,” said Remy. “Then, we could have something to bite into.”
Troopers or private investigator, the goal is the same. They all hope to find answers for one more family that hasn’t found them yet.
“There’s somebody out there hurting, almost always with these cases. And it’s hard to just let them go,” said Remy. “There is a chance still to have someone look into this, and that’s what we’re there for.”