Huntsville Police plan addition of Cold Case Unit to their force

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Sometimes it may seem like homicide cases that make headlines get pushed to the back burner, and we don't hear any more about them for a long time. Huntsville Police assure us that investigators are assigned to each of those files, even the ones deemed "cold cases."

Now, the Huntsville Police Department plans to add a cold case unit to its arsenal of forces.

Investigators say they aren't giving up on roughly a dozen homicide-related cold cases that span the past couple decades. "Anything we can do to help close those cases," says Lt. Stacy Bates. "Not only to bring the family closure, but to get justice for the victim and to get some closure for us and the investigators. Anything we can do to help; that is something that we're really interested in."

So what is a cold case? "We're going to consider a cold case anything that's been a year or so that we haven't been able to make an arrest on; that we're just kind of running out of leads on," says Bates. "For lack of better terms, we're at a dead end. We're kind of going to consider that a cold case for right now."

Lt. Bates says investigators are assigned to each cold case. "They never get just filed away in a filing cabinet somewhere, With the changes in DNA and all the types of forensic sciences these days, there's a lot of cases that we can maybe open up and maybe get some forensics off of that we didn't have years ago."

Bates said a few investigators will make up the cold case team. "They're able to focus on those and go wherever they need to go; talk to whoever they need to talk to."

Huntsville Police haven't set up a time-frame for the Cold Case Unit, but hope to start it within the next year. It depends on funding and specialized training.

Lt. Bates said the department is open to working with other agencies, like the Alabama Attorney General's Office, to get the unit started.