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Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $533,200)

There are approximately 270,000 unsolved homicides in the United States and approximately over 20,000 in the state of Texas as of 2020. [1] Individual agencies often lack the available funding to dedicate personnel to work exclusively on cold cases. Forensic testing can be cost prohibitive and unavailable for agencies when active cases require more immediate attention.  Recognizing the lack of resources available for investigating and prosecuting cold cases, the Texas Attorney General’s Office created the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, (Unit), in 2021 to provide support to local agencies in the investigation and prosecution of unsolved homicide and missing persons cases. The Unit collaborates with local authorities to provide investigative assistance, training opportunities, state of the art forensic testing, and other helpful resources in working unsolved homicide and missing persons cases.

Since 2021, the Unit has expanded from 1 full-time employee to 5 full-time employees that includes a Senior Counsel/Prosecutor, 2 full-time Sergeant Investigators, a Crime Analyst, and a Criminal Intelligence Analyst. The Unit has actively worked on over 40 cases, has received over 140 public inquiries about the Unit or with requests for specific information about unsolved cases, and has hosted 3 free statewide trainings that have benefited over 300 individuals with a fourth training planned for December 2023. The Unit has also provided over $36,000 in funding to outside law enforcement agencies across the state for forensic testing, including STR and Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy, (FIGG), analysis and testing.  The BJA FY 23 Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA grant would enable the Unit to have additional resources to effectively investigate unsolved homicides referred to the Unit from agencies across the state and would lead to an increase in the capacity of local departments to solve and prosecute violent crimes leading to an increase in the overall safety of the general public.  

[1] Data as of 1980-2020. Adcock, James M., PhD; Forensic Consultant, Homicide and Cold Cases, Mid-South Cold Case Initiative, Collierville, TN; Murder Accountability Project, murderdata.org.

Date Created: September 14, 2023