DPS launches new cold case database
There are roughly more than 400 cold cases throughout Utah which include homicides, missing persons, and unidentified deceased persons. Last legislative session, Utah lawmakers passed Senate Bill 160 which required all law enforcement agencies in Utah to enter their cold cases and missing persons cases into the database. The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) is spearheading the effort and has been provided funding for the database and for a full-time cold case analyst.
Four divisions within DPS will support the database and its goal of bringing justice to victims and their families. The Department’s Crime Lab, State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), State Information and Analysis Center (SIAC) and the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) will all have a hand in supporting cases entered into the database.
As part of the requirements of Senate Bill 160, cases that remain unsolved at least 3 years after the crime occurred, or any homicide that has gone unsolved, must be submitted into the database.
At a press conference on Tuesday, January 29th, Public Safety Commissioner Jess L. Anderson, Senator Todd Weiler, who sponsored SB 160 during the 2018 legislative session, DPS Chief Brian Redd, and DPS Cold Case Analyst Kathy Mackay addressed the media.
The full press conference can be viewed in the video below.
Commissioner Anderson stated that he is proud of the role DPS will play in this endeavor and that “we see it as an unprecedented opportunity as we collaborate with different DPS divisions and with local municipalities.” He thanked Senator Weiler and his fellow law makers who supported the senator’s vision for this database.
In his seven years in the Legislature, Senator Weiler has passed and sponsored over 100 bills. “I can count on one hand how many of those bills will matter 30 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years after I’m gone,” Senator Weiler said, referring to SB160. “This is one of those bills. It’s that important. It was a privilege for me to sponsor this legislation and I hope it will make a huge difference moving forward.”
Echoing Senator Weiler’s belief in the potential impact of the database, Chief Redd said, “we feel like this is going to be a very ground-breaking effort, with the public, the media and law enforcement working together and sharing information, we can get a lot done.”
Along with the support from Senator Weiler, the development of the database was a collaborative effort between the Department of Public Safety, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Salt Lake City Police, Unified Police Department, the Utah Chiefs of Police and Utah Sheriffs’ Associations, the Utah Cold Case Coalition, Statewide Association of Prosecutors, and Dr. Rachel Walton, a subject matter expert in cold case homicides, among others. For more information, please visit https://bci.utah.gov/cold-case/ .
In October, DPS relaunched its efforts into Maidenwater victim cold case that originated in 1998. In November, investigators were able to positively identify the victim as Lina Reyes-Geddes. At the press conference, her family stood alongside DPS officials as the new database is launched to help other families and victims. Read more about the bittersweet reunion of Lina with her family here.
Media contact: Marissa Cote, Utah Department of Public Safety