There are approximately 269,205 unsolved homicides in the United States and approximately 19,207 unsolved homicides in the state of Texas.
Individual agencies often lack the available funding and staffing to dedicate full-time personnel to work exclusively on cold cases. Forensic testing can be cost prohibitive and, at times, unavailable for agencies when current and active cases require more immediate attention.
The mission of the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit is to provide assistance and support to law enforcement agencies across the state in the investigation and prosecution, (if applicable), of unsolved cases, including homicides, missing persons, and other matters centered around human identification and forensic genealogy. The goal of the Unit is to collaborate and coordinate with local authorities, upon the request of each agency, to provide investigative assistance, training opportunities, state of the art forensic testing, expert witnesses, legal research, and other helpful resources to support local jurisdictions in working unsolved homicide cases. The Unit will strive to develop the best practices to effectively assess, strategize, and triage cases with the ultimate mission of holding perpetrators of violent crimes accountable and providing a measure of justice and closure to families who have been left with unanswered questions over time.
The Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit within the Office of the Attorney General is currently in the planning and development stage. The Unit is on target to begin reviewing cases by the end of 2021.
What is a Cold Case?
There are several ways to define cold cases. The current definition used by the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit is as follows:
Any homicide or missing persons case in which all investigative leads known to the investigating agency have been exhausted. These cases need not be inactive for any fixed period of time so long as local law enforcement agencies have investigated all evidentiary leads to the fullest extent practicable. Although other criminal offenses may be considered cold cases, the Office of the Attorney General Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit is focused on unsolved homicide cases at this time.
Office of the Attorney General Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit Law Enforcement Survey – In July 2021, the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit sent a survey to law enforcement agencies across the state about cold case investigations and department resources. Survey Responses (PDF)