Cold Cases: An Evaluation Model with Follow-up Strategies for Investigators, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cold Cases

An Evaluation Model with Follow-up Strategies for Investigators, 1st Edition

By James M. Adcock, Sarah L. Stein

CRC Press

264 pages | 33 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-05-22
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Nearly 185,000 homicides since 1980 remain unsolved, yet with limited staff and resources, it is no surprise that law enforcement units place the bulk of their efforts on current cases where victims’ family members and the media demand answers. Cold Cases: An Evaluation Model with Follow-up Strategies for Investigators provides a comprehensive roadmap for digging those cold cases out of the file room and getting them resolved. Practical and concise, the book is an invaluable tool for police officers and detectives attempting to solve crimes that would otherwise be forgotten.

Evaluating the Case

Divided into three sections, the book begins with a historical perspective on how cases get to the point where it appears all investigative leads have been exhausted. It includes a chapter on understanding the process of homicide and those who kill — critical information for the homicide investigator. Next, the authors explain the evaluation model. They demonstrate the key elements of organization, thoroughness, and the value of the scientific method. This section validates theories of the crime, raises evidentiary issues and concerns, addresses the informational and behavioral aspects relative to the crime and the participants in the crime, and documents investigative strategies for future efforts on the case.

Investigating and Solving the Crime

The third section discusses the investigation that follows the evaluation. The book considers questions investigators must ask, including what should be looked at beyond the case file itself, and how the growth in technology since the date of the incident might provide new opportunities to uncover clues. This section also explores the choice of interview/interrogation techniques based on the behavioral aspects involved. Finally, the authors suggest how investigators can maximize their efforts and obtain not just an arrest, but a conviction.

Useful appendices include sample standard operating procedures from three different agencies to use as a guide for setting up a cold case unit and a list of additional resources a department may look to for assistance. By following the cold cases evaluation model in this volume, those charged with resolving long-forgotten crimes can increase their chance of an accurate resolution, or at least be able to say that everything that can be done has been done.


"I recommend this book to forensic practitioners. … We can gain a better understanding of the anatomy of a cold case investigation and how we can better assist the investigators."

— Alan Benton, B.A., Sgt. ( Retired), Forensics Instructor, Ontario Police College

Table of Contents

Section I: Getting Started: How Do We Prepare to Review and Conduct Cold Case Investigations?

What Is a Cold Case and How Did We Get Here? J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

Historical Perspective

Understanding the Process of Homicide and Those Who Kill; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

Social Scientists’ Research on Homicide

Homicide During the 1960s to 1990s

Solvability Research

The Phases of Homicide

Creating a Cold Case Squad (Concepts for Initialization); J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

Section II: The Evaluation Process

The Cold Case Evaluation Model—Introduction and Phase I; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein


Cold Case Evaluation Protocol

Phase I

The Case File

Official Documents

Police Reports



Physical/Forensic Evidence


Persons of Interest

Handwritten Notes



The Cold Case Evaluation Model—Phase II; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

The Evaluation Model

The Cold Case Evaluation Model—Phases III and IV; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

Phase III

Phase IV

Section III: Follow-up Investigative Strategies

Applying Science and Technology to Cold Cases; A. B. Harper

Science and the Scientific Method in Criminal Investigation

Scientific Advances, Databases, and Linkage Possibilities

DNA and Biological Evidence

Fingerprint Evidence

Ballistics Evidence

Other Database and Analytical Tools

Suspect Identification Using Pre-, Peri-, and Post-Offense Behaviors; R. Walter, S. L. Stein, and J. M. Adcock

Perpetrator Subtypes

Power-Assertive Type

Power-Reassurance Type

Anger-Retaliatory Type

Anger-Excitation Type


Crime Behavior

Pre-Crime Behavior

Post-Crime Behavior

Case Illustration

Interview and Interrogation Issues and Concerns Relating to Cold Cases; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

The Interview Process

The Behavioral Analysis Interview (BAI)

The Prescriptive Interview

Murder Typologies and Interrogation Strategies

Evaluation Reports and Legal Considerations; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein

Report Formats

The Prosecutor

Legal Considerations

General Considerations

Chain of Custody

Memory of Witnesses

Loss of Evidence


The Murder of Martha Moxley (A Case Study)

Martha’s Story

Conclusion; J. M. Adcock and S. L. Stein


A: Office of the Morris County Prosecutor—Standard Operating Procedures

B: Metropolitan Police Department—Major Case/Cold Case Squads—Standard Operating Procedures

C: Establishing a Police Gray Squad to Resolve Unsolved Homicide Cases—Tulsa Police Department, Tulsa, OK

D: Sample Cold Case Evaluation Report

E: Alternate Resources for Investigators


About the Authors

James M. Adcock, PhD and Sarah L. Stein, MFS are with The Center for the Resolution of Unresolved Crime (CRUC) in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA

About the Series

Advances in Police Theory and Practice

Presenting volumes that focus on the nexus between research and practice, the Advances in Police Theory and Practice series is geared toward those practitioners and academics seeking to implement the latest innovations in policing from across the world. This series draws from an international community of experts who examine who the police are, what they do, and how they maintain order, administer laws, and serve their communities.

The series eeditor encourages the contribution of works coauthored by police practitioners and researchers. Proposals for contributions to the series may be submitted to the series editor Dilip Das at [email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science