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The Iowa attorney general hopes to get a cold case unit started with the state’s Department of Justice and is seeking just over half a million dollars to start tackling nearly 600 unsolved cold cases.
Attorney General Brenna Bird met with the state’s House Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday to present her department’s budget proposal of about $31.8 million, to be spread between the criminal justice division, civil litigation division, agency counsel division, consumer protection division, farm and freedom division, consumer advocate division, administrative division and the solicitor general.
But one thing her department is lacking is a cold case unit.
With recent advancements in DNA forensics, many states across the U.S. have invested in resources to start tackling cold cases, or unsolved murders and mysterious deaths that have been shelved for decades after investigators exhausted every possible lead.
"There are 585 unsolved cold cases in Iowa," Bird said during the hearing. "About 400 of them could be considered active cold cases."
In her presentation, Bird showed a map of Iowa showing the number of cold cases in each region. The presentation also noted that there is at least one cold case in every single county of the state.
"It’s important that we’re always trying to solve these cases, because over time new evidence can come to light," Bird said. "There’s new science available for DNA, but also, witnesses after the passage of time may choose to come forward if they’re not as afraid of the person involved as they were in the past or if they have made changes in their life where they want to get certain things off their conscience that they know about."
The state’s top prosecutor is requesting $523,464 and four full-time employees, including three investigators and one prosecutor.
Bird said the cases are difficult because of the passage of time, adding she would want prosecutors involved from the beginning.
A spokesperson for Bird’s office told Fox News Digital the Justice Department has not been able to establish a cold case unit of its own because it is challenging enough to fill law enforcement positions to patrol the streets, let alone devote time to reexamining cold cases. Creating this unit will lift the burden off law enforcement's shoulders.
Once established, the team plans to tackle cases they know they are on the cusp of solving, the spokesperson said.
"With the help of law enforcement, we have been working all across the state to detect leads, provide some long overdue answers to victims' families, and ensure no one gets away with murder," the spokesperson added.
This is not the first time Iowa has focused efforts on solving its cold cases.
In 2008, the state legislature voted to establish a cold case unit as part of the department of public safety, according to reporting from KGLO in Mason City, Iowa.
The state also used a federal grant to recruit a lab technician and a couple of investigators to begin going through cases nearly a decade ago.
Original article source: Iowa's top prosecutor seeks funding for specialized unit to begin solving state's 585 cold cases