Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,400,000)
The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) is applying as the lead agency under Purpose Area 6 of the 2023 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Grant Announcement to support the investigation of unsolved violent crime cold cases through advanced DNA testing and research methodologies, and investigative tools. With the increasing cost of advanced technology platforms and the limited capacity of the NJSP to utilize these platforms, grant funds for testing are essential to assist with the necessary efforts to reinvestigate unsolved violent crime cold cases. The NJSP has been awarded grant funding through the FY 2020 and FY 2022 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative programs and has been able to downstream many of the unsolved sexual assault cases. There are approximately 155 violent crime cold cases in the NJSP Cold Case Unit repository that do not have a sexual nexus, and thus have not been eligible to use FY 2020 and FY 2022 SAKI grant funds. In addition, the counties within the Cold Case Regional Task Force have an additional 300 violent crime cold cases that would benefit from grant funding. FY 2023 SAKI grant funds would be used for the following: (a) Testing or retesting evidence items in these cases; (b) Training and overtime; (c) Enhancing victim services; (d) Travel costs associated to engagements with persons of interest; (e) Case review and further analysis of the violent crime cold cases. Detectives from the NJSP Cold Case Unit will lead this project. They will work in partnership with the Cold Case Regional Task Force, NJSP Office of Forensic Sciences (OFS), the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Prosecutor’s Offices throughout New Jersey, and victim advocates. 3-year Plan:
Continue working with the established multidisciplinary team.
Review the inventory of cases and assess their viability for further investigation, solvability, and evidence testing.
Identify cases with untested evidence items and cases in which testing was conducted, but further testing would be beneficial to include items that have not been previously tested, and items that could be re-tested with more current advanced technology.
Send identified evidence to private laboratories for advanced testing.
Identify cases in which traditional follow-up investigation would be beneficial. Travel where necessary to interview persons of interest.
Keywords: New Jersey State Police, National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), Cold case, Violent crime, Victim advocate