New York Magazine

barrels2.jpg There’s an article this week in New York Magazine about the Cold Case Squad! It’s called, Stiffed: How the NYPD’s elite Cold Case Squad, which investigates long-unsolved crimes, is falling victim to a slow bureaucratic death, and it was written by Janelle Nanos.

I’m happy about this article. I think it’s important to try to solve these murders. This picture was taken at the Property Clerk Warehouse. Those are called DNA or Blood Barrels, and they are full of homicide evidence. Each barrel represents 20 to 25 unsolved murders.

The article ends with a quote from, John Diefenbach, whose 14-year-old daughter was murdered in 1988. Her murder is still not solved. He says hope is all they have. If the squad goes away, all he will have is despair. The following is a snippet from my book. I’m writing about waiting for a new lead in a case. The 8,894 refers to the number of unsolved murders in the police department’s database, and “filler 5’s” refers to DD5’s, the name of the form they use to write up what they’re doing on a case. A “filler 5” means they’re really not doing anything, but they have to put somethhing down on paper.

“There doesn’t seem to be any part of the whole process that isn’t about disappointment … And so the detectives wait. Tommy Wray waits. John Diefenbach waits. The families of the 8,894 wait. Almost all of them will wait forever. Most cases will remain cold and unsolved until the very last member of the immediate family is dead, and all the detectives retire and new detectives stop writing filler 5’s, and the cases are put away for good, until the next precinct move, when they will finally be lost forever.”

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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