Turning Cold Cases Into Solved Cases

A breakthrough last week in a nine-year-old murder case has now re-energized those who try to find "hot" leads in "cold" cases.

A tiny room on the second floor of the Leon County Sheriff's Office holds binders full of secrets, unsolved murders in which detectives are waiting for that one critical clue.

SGT Curtis Parker with LCSO says, "There are people out there who know who's responsible for a lot of these unsolved murders, and just like in the case of John Turner, it just takes one of them to come forward and give us the break we need."

A tip and a subsequent DNA match led deputies to John Turner, who was arrested last week for stabbing a Tallahassee woman to death nine years ago.

DNA technology offers perhaps the greatest hope for breathing new life into old cases. At both LCSO and TPD, DNA evidence is periodically re-run in hopes of finding a match, and the cold cases themselves are periodically handed to new investigators who may take cases one step further.

SGT Jeff Johnson of the Tallahassee Police Department says, "There are frequently little tidbits that come in, and when placed upon that pile accumulate and begin to give you a picture of at least who you're looking for."

So while these binders and the victims they represent wait to be re-labeled "case solved," homicide investigators remind those who think they've gotten away with murder that there is no statute of limitations.

Among the cold cases that have "heated up" recently are last summer's murder of homeless woman Delia McMillan and the 2003 murder of Shermayne Jones. We'll keep you posted on any developments.