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September 8th, 2014

The Women Survivors of Homicide Movement

I just learned of The Women Survivors of Homicide Movement, which is led by Mary Franklin. I read about them in a Boston Herald article. From the article:

“A group of “women survivors” whose sons, husbands and other relatives are among Boston’s hundreds of unsolved murders are planning to pack the T next week to press police on diversifying their homicide unit and highlight the stunning number of cold cases.”

Franklin is quite right to push for more people of color in the homicide squads. I found that in New York you’re twice as likely to be murdered if you’re black, and your case is four times as likely to go cold. The Herald reports finding that in Boston “black men were killed at 10 times the rate of white men over the 10-year span, but only 38 percent of their killings were solved compared with 79 percent for white men.”

(Also, they have 335 unsolved murders from 2004 – 2013. My most conservative estimate of the number of unsolved murders for the same time period in New York is 1,650.)

Their event, called Turning the Orange Line Purple, is scheduled for Saturday, September 20th. They hope to line “one side of a T car from Forest Hills to the Oak Grove T station and back.” (With pictures of their murdered friends and relatives.) It’s not clear if they plan to line one car or the whole train. I also wonder if they plan to Livestream it? I’ll try to find out, and I’ll update this post if I do.

Update: A video of Mary Franklin speaking about the movement.

This photograph by Stuart Cahill is from the Boston Herald article I’ve linked to.

The Women Survivors of Homicide Movement, Boston Massachussetts

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August 12th, 2014

The Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber
I just heard about a new book that I’m sure will be of interest to readers of this blog. It’s called
The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases and it was written by freelance journalist Deborah Halber.

Among Halber’s many accomplishments, she was the editor for the magazine of my alma mater, Tufts, and a science writer for MIT (envy!).

The Skeleton Crew is getting great reviews, and here’s just one, from Sue Grafton:

“The Skeleton Crew is a carefully crafted account of an intriguing new opportunity for arm chair sleuths. Thanks to the Internet, anyone with a computer, curiosity, patience, and a passion for justice can enter the dark world of missing persons and unsolved homicides. It’s fascinating to learn how such matches are made and heartening to witness the growing cooperation between law enforcement and ordinary citizens whose persistence can sometimes crack the code in cold cases that have languished unresolved for years. I loved it.”

I know from experience how passionate these arm chair sleuths are, and how effective they can be. Their very existence and persistence helped bring the national databases (of missing persons and unsolved murders) into being, and I’m very glad their story is being told.

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June 15th, 2014

Congratulations to the NYPD’s Cold Case and Apprehension Squad

The Cold Case and Apprehension Squad got a unit citation for 2013, for “Arresting 10 individuals for committing years old homicides throughout NYC. This eight person unit has worked tirelessly in investigation and enforcement, collaborating with numerous agencies in the U.S and overseas. Their extensive efforts have successfully achieved justice for victims and their families by solving these cold case homicides.”

Six cases were listed, which resulted in 10 arrests.

The picture below is from the City’s webpage and NYPD’s Facebook page. Accepting the citation for the Cold Case Squad is Sgt. Daniel Chiarantano, but I’ve never met him so I can’t point out which one he is!

Congratulations to the Cold Case Squad and everyone else whose work was honored that day.


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April 6th, 2014

Bratton and the Future of the Cold Case Squad

I wonder what the return of Police Commissioner William Bratton might mean for the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad? Bratton was Commissioner when the Cold Case Squad was put in place, and he was very supportive of the squad. I read that he increased the LAPD’s Cold Case Homicide Unit when he was their Chief of Police. In direct contrast, former Commissioner Ray Kelly allowed to the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad to shrink from 49 detectives in 1996, the year they were established, to an all-time low of only 7 detectives. I know the focus shifted to counter-terrorism, but that’s 7 detectives covering roughly 10,000 unsolved murders going back to 1985. The squad is currently up to 8.

The Chief of Detectives wants to beef up the unit, I’ve heard. I know it’s never going back up to 49, but surely they could use a little more help.

The earliest picture I could find of the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad.


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