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Cold Cases Heating Up

Pete Springer/OPB

Recently there have been a number of breakthroughs in cold cases, otherwise known as unsolved homicides, around the state.

In 1980 the body of Ronald Moses, a sailor, was found in the Willamette River. Now, 30 years later, the murder case has culminated with the arraignment of a suspect. Moses’ mother says she’s relieved to know the truth about her son’s killer.

Last month, police arrested a man in the small Coos County town of Coquille, charging him with the murder of 15-year-old Leah Freeman ten years ago. These are just two in a growing list of cold cases that have been in the news over the past few months. In some cases, arrests are not possible because the suspects are either dead or already incarcerated, but victims’ families still say they are relieved to have some resolution and to know that their loved ones were not forgotten.

One reason for the recent uptick in activity in these cases is technological advances, such as DNA analysis. That’s allowed detectives and forensic experts to glean new information from old evidence. The Oregon State Police forensic lab handles DNA evidence for all the law enforcement agencies in the state. According to DNA supervisor Susan Hormann, new funding resources have lead to a surge in new evidence in cases that were previously considered “cold.”

Not all of these cases get solved, of course. Many more families are still waiting for answers.

Have you — or someone you know — been affected by an unsolved homicide? Do you work as a detective? What does solving a cold case mean to those involved? What does it mean to the community at large?


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