Inside the Evidence: The challenges of solving a cold case

February 22, 2018 03:37 AM

News10NBC's special series "Inside the Evidence" goes where you can't: Inside police investigations of unsolved murders.

As part of the series, Nikki Rudd is taking behind the scenes with the Rochester Police Department's Major Crimes Unit with a look at the challenges detectives are facing.

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Nikki Rudd: "So when did you get this filing system?"
Lt. Frank Umbrino, RPD: "We got this new filing system a couple months ago and since we got the filing system we are starting to organize and categorize all the cases that we have."

Lt. Frank Umbrino has been working to organize all of RPD's 500 open homicide cases dating back nearly 50 years!

"Each case as we are filling it away we put a label on it," says Lt. Umbrino. "Red is open and obviously black is closed. So these are mostly murder cases there are other serious cases that we invested. You will see some rapes in here.  Back to the 1975 Park Avenue rapes, we have to the Gingello homicides; we got some Shawcross files back here."

"One of the things we attempted to do is label everything so it is easy to see, easy to find, and easy to pull out if we need it. And now every case has been entered into a master computer log. But this is just the beginning... Solving these cases takes a lot of work and legal requirements are different for cold cases."

"One of the biggest things was there lab work we can do now that didn't exist back then," Lt. Umbrino explains.

But current cases get priority in the crime lab. On top of that, RPD has just 12 homicide detectives.

Umbrino: "Often times, there's not enough hours in the day to get done the work that needs to be done on active cases."
Nikki Rudd: "And that's just on current cases, recent cases."
Umbrino: "Yes."

"We're pecking away," Umbrino adds. "Ideally, if you wanted to have a cold case squad, you'd have to have four investigators and a sergeant just dedicated to that."

"Money is scarce nowadays," he continues. "It would be great - it would be helpful for us. I work with what I have, so we try to do the best we can."

Right now, I'm working on a story about a triple murder in Rochester from 15 years ago. No arrests were ever made, but could you help crack the case? In the coming weeks, we'll take you inside the evidence.


Nikki Rudd

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