As the Albuquerque Police Department continues to try to bring down the crime rate in the city, their detectives are trying to catch up and solve almost 500 cold cases, some of them dating back to the ’70s.
“There’s no further leads that we can exhaust at this point, so we’re going to go ahead and reassign this to a new detective, which at that point it would go into a cold case,” said Lt. Scott Norris.
One of the most famous cold cases: the West Mesa Serial Killer.
“We haven’t forgotten about you. This is still an active case. Unfortunately, some investigations move quicker than others,” said Norris.
APD’s Lt. Scott Norris said that is just one of the 488 unsolved cases, and all of them are murders.
“We have investigations that date back all the way to 1971 up until our most recent, what we would refer to as a cold case or active unsolved case, is 2014,” said Norris.
Just because the case has gone cold, doesn’t mean detectives are not working on it.
“We try to take one case at a time, and we try to look at the current cases that we do have that have the most promising leads,” Norris said.
A promising lead is what helped detectives close a case that haunted Brittani Marcell’s family for almost 10 years.
“Balancing, holding some hope that this could be solved one day. But looking towards a place to find closure without the answer of who did it,” said Alicia Marcell.
Brittani was beaten with a shovel in her westside home back in 2008. The family went on for almost 10 years without knowing who did it, until a detail remembered through hypnosis led police to Justin Hansen.
“Leads would flood in and then it would dwindle down. So it was a high and low of hope and hopelessness,” said Marcell.
“We understand that it can be really disheartening and very frustrating,” said Norris.
Marcell said when her family got the call they had been waiting for almost a decade, it came with its own challenges.
“It was a whole other chapter of difficulty of facing him in court and learning about the justice system. Sometimes don’t feel just, or they don’t feel like they’re happening fairly,” she said.
While Marcell and her family have been fortunate enough to have their case solved, she urges the families and friends of the 488 unsolved cases to remain positive.
“Remember that you survived too. That person may be gone and was a victim in this story, but you survived too, and live like the strong survivor you are,” Marcell said.
APD actually doesn’t like the term “cold case.” They call them “active unsolved cases.”
It’s still called the Cold Case Unit though. They have three detectives. APD wants to hire at least three more, along with three civilians to put a dent in the caseload.