Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) is one of the nation’s largest public prosecution agencies serving over 4.7 million residents. MCAO works with more than 25 different law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to prosecute crimes committed within Maricopa County. Cold Case Type 1 Violent Crimes are handled largely by one prosecutor, three investigators, a criminal analyst, and a paralegal. Together they possess more than 80 years of combined experience with cold cases homicides and violent crimes.
Maricopa County Attorney's Office 2022 Cold Case DNA proposal is a three-year project to increase the number of staff available to prosecute cold case violent crimes and provide continued staffing to support cold case investigations with a cold case analyst and overtime for existing detectives. Resources provided at these different levels ensure qualifying cold cases will be kept in the forefront, categorized, and revisited as new technologies are developed, and are not forgotten. This will ultimately lead to the identification of suspects and increase the number of cases brought forward for prosecution thus lowering the number of unsolved violent crimes and homicides within Maricopa County and improving public safety.
The MCAO project will continue efforts to create a complete database of Part 1 Violent Crime and Homicide cold cases within the county which stalled with the onset of Covid. This database will identify cases with suspect DNA either in CODIS without a match or available in evidence (mixtures and single sources) and other details allowing MCAO the opportunity to organize and prioritize cases based on solvability and better identify staffing and other financial needs for future funding opportunities. An informal request in 2019 identified more than 340 cold case homicides with suspect DNA. While an exact number is still unknown, law enforcement and public lab information estimate the number to be around 4,000. To fully understand the scope of unsolved homicides within the county, MCAO will utilize interns to assist MCAO, LEAs, and the public testing labs in completing a comprehensive inventory.
MCAO will track information to satisfy performance measures and reporting requirements and enter cases into required databases to identify, apprehend and prosecute those offenders who are a serious threat to public safety and bring closure to victims and their families.