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August 16th, 2009

Activity on Nearly 40 Year Old Case

I’ve always felt drawn to the oldest cases. In fact I’m looking back into a 1920 case that I came across while I was writing The Restless Sleep that’s been haunting me. But a few cases came to my attention recently, and one of them stood out because it started with a missing persons case and I’ve been hearing from the parents of missing children a little more than usual lately.

I researched the NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad while I was writing my book. What I learned was, the work of that squad is every bit as hard, frustrating and heart-breaking as the Cold Case Squad, and in some ways more so. It’s got to be seriously emotionally challenging working in a missings persons squad. I wonder what the turn-over rate is?

Because solving a missing persons case sometimes leads to the worst news a parent can hear. Recently police in Darke County, Ohio identified the remains of 18 year old Jeanne Melville, who went missing in 1970. Ultimately, it’s better to know than not know and the people on this case are heroes, but no cop wants to be the one to say, “We found your daughter, but …”  From Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker: “Where we go from here is a lot of research. Most records we want to look at are gone but we want to do research …”  (You know, I love research more than anything. I’d love to get a job as a cold case squad’s research specialist or something.  I’m like a pit bull when it comes to finding information.) One of the stories about Jeanne’s case is here.

Along the lines of solving very old cases I read this story [article has since been removed] about the recent work of the The Nashville Metropolitan Police Department Cold Case Unit under Commander Mickey Miller.  They are also actively working on cases from the seventies.

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