Students shed new light on unsolved cases

Staffordshire University students have helped to identify significant new evidence in two unsolved crimes

German crime scene tape reading 'polizeibsperung'

The students worked on two unsolved cases from Germany

I can't imagine the devastation of losing someone personally in unexplained circumstances like these, so to be able to revisit an ongoing cold case and have access to the case files and hopefully offer a different insight or perspective was a fantastic opportunity.

Gemma Cooke, MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

The world’s first International Cold Case Analysis Project launched last December bringing together the expertise of police academies and universities to revisit historic criminal cases.

In collaboration with the Police Expert Network on Missing Persons (PEN-MP), AMBER Alert Europe and Locate International, members have been analysing two more cold cases from Germany.

For more than three months, Staffordshire University students worked with students from nine other participating universities and the Police Academy of Lower Saxony on cold cases provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Offices in Verden and Oldenburg, including the case of a missing girl and a murder victim found in the North Sea.

Staffordshire University students helped with the investigations under the supervision of Professor of Conflict Archaeology and Genocide Investigation Caroline Sturdy Colls, Associate Professor of Criminology Jo Turner, Associate Professor of Forensic Science Rachel Bolton-King and Lecturer in Policing Emma Tilley.

Professor Sturdy Colls said: "Our students have once again worked tirelessly to examine several cold cases. The lead investigators have told me that their findings have led to significant new lines of inquiry that could lead to resolving these cases."

Students recommended modern forensic methods to identify the unknown murder victim, the duration of time he was in the water as well as local references to the clothes he was wearing. Their results have now been presented to the responsible investigators and prosecutors in Germany.

Gemma Cooke, studying MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice, worked on the project. The 47-year-old from Berry Hill said: “I felt privileged to work on the cold case and be part of a team of specialist students within forensics, policing, criminology and law to help the police.

“I can't imagine the devastation of losing someone personally in unexplained circumstances like these, so to be able to revisit an ongoing cold case and have access to the case files and hopefully offer a different insight or perspective was a fantastic opportunity. This is such a brilliant example of the importance of teamwork, partnerships coming together and utilising students’ skills as well as helping them to develop and acquire more.”

This latest investigation saw the number of participating students nearly double and another cold case analysis is planned from December 2021 to February 2022 which will focus on cases with children as victims.

Discover more about Staffordshire University’s cold case work in the next episode the Crime Tapes podcast released on 28 October.

 

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