Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $500,000)
The Houston Police Department will embark on a journey to be a voice and bring justice for those that were murdered in the city of Houston because of sexual orientation and ethnicity. With over 6,000 unsolved murders in the city of Houston, the Cold Case Squad of the Homicide Division will primarily review unsolved murders in an area that is home for many LBGTQ citizens of Houston. The time period the division will research is the 1970’s. Case files will be recalled from archives and thoroughly reviewed. We will look for evidence that may benefit from testing or retesting with hopes of producing DNA to help identify the suspects. In those cases where DNA is not located in CODIS, then it will be used in genealogy research to help identify the suspect. We will also attempt to re-interview witnesses that may still be alive. The detectives will contact surviving family members once it is determined that their loved ones’ cases are being reopened. In 2008, the Homicide Division created a database to assist in managing and keeping track of cases with a variety of statistics. With this grant, the division will be able to enter these open cold cases into the database and keep track of those with a hate crime nexus. The department will also employ an individual to assist with the research of these identified cases for solvability factors along with the monitoring of lab status of tested evidence. For the first year, research will be done on open murder cases from 1978 – 1979. The total number of open murder cases for these two years are 660. The research will consist of filtering the open cases down to the applicable police beats. Once those cases are identified, they will be researched and analyzed for solvability factors. The division will consult with the local FBI field office about the cases. The second year will consist of submitting evidence for testing while conducting follow-up investigations. The third year will consist of teaming up with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for possible charges on cases where a suspect is identified and living. Statistics will be collected for all three years in regards to cases reviewed, number of cases where evidence is tested, number of follow-up investigations, number of suspects identified regardless if alive or dead, and number of suspects charged in the murders.