Thanks to the possibilities which DNA later offered, in combination with similarities of different M.O.’s the investigators learned about, it became possible to link multiple cases to the same perpetrator. In 2018 they nabbed a suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, thanks to a match between a DNA profile in one of the public ancestry databases (GEDmatch) and the DNA samples which the law enforcement agencies were able to collect (old blood, hair, etc).
Even though I am still in the middle of the book, it sparked my interest in Cold Cases. A Cold Case, as defined by the online Oxford Dictionaries, is:
An unsolved criminal investigation which remains open pending the discovery of new evidence.
With the advent of the Internet, law enforcement agencies not only are using the possibilities which DNA has to offer but also the possibilities offered by the Internet. Thanks to the Internet the general public can be reached in a much faster way then was the case in the past.
Some police departments have indeed setup web pages dedicated to cold case listings with details of cases and contact details of the police. One such example is the website from the Dutch National Police: https://www.politie.nl/gezocht-en-vermist/cold-cases-de-zaken.
Although most articles on my blog are generally dedicated to Genealogy related subjects, I find that the domain of Cold Cases is very similar to the domain of Genealogy. It is indeed not completely comparable (e.g.: you’ll find much less information in public archives etc), but both genealogy and cold cases require you to research the past for names, facts of people, etc. Additionally, Genealogy is most often a hobby, whereas finding a suspect is of utmost importance to society.
I wanted to give it a try, and choose the following case to start with:
Dead unknown man in Staelduinsebos
The dedicated webpage, found on https://www.politie.nl/gezocht-en-vermist/dossiers/2018/06-%E2%80%99s-gravenzande-dode-onbekende-man-in-staelduinsebos/s-gravenzande-dode-onbekende-man-in-staelduinsebos.html, offers us more details (in Dutch):
Latest update: 08-01-2018 | 06:00
Date of offense: 09-12-2007
Crime scene: ‘s-Gravenzande
In the Staelduinsebos in ‘s-Gravenzande, the remains of an unknown man were found on Sunday 9 December 2007.
It was a white man of 25 to 35 years old. He was 1.80 m tall, had short dark hair, a stubbly beard and brown eyes. On the inside of his right leg, he had a small colored tattoo. On his right upper arm, he had a colored tattoo of an eye.
The man was dressed in a white t-shirt. On the front of it was the text Northern Sideloaders LTD. On the back was Commandeurs Sideloaders. He also wore a black sweater, a khaki-beige coat with a fur collar, brown ribbed pant, and beige suede shoes.
Do you know more about the identity of this man? Or maybe you can tell more about his tattoos?
I checked the Internet and found out about a company which was established in 1993 with the name “Northern Sideloaders ltd” which is a company in England. In 2013 (or later?) the company created “Commander Handling Ltd.” as an outlet. The text on the t-shirt possibly thus referred to the same company (the description on the website of the police reads Commandeurs Sideloaders, but that could be a typo and should be Commanders Sideloaders, without the extra ‘u’).
That could be one lead, other leads could be the description of the tattoo’s (the shape and place on the body), the location of where the body was found, the photo of the victim which you can find on the webpage, etc).
In the meantime, I have contacted the company through the email address found on their website to check whether they knew the victim as a co-worker:
van: Gershon S. Lehrer
datum: 11 okt. 2018 16:21
onderwerp: Cold Case involving the death of an unkown man
I hope that you are able to help me, could you else please forward it internally?
I apologize for reaching out to you through this channel.
On Sunday 9 December 2007 an unknown man was found in The Netherlands in a forest in
‘s-Gravenzande which is called Staelduinsebos.
Unfortunately, he was found dead.
Further details provided by the police:
It was a white man of 25 to 35 years old. He was 1.80 m tall, had short dark hair, a stubbly beard and brown eyes. On the inside of his right leg, he had a small colored tattoo. On his right upper arm, he had a colored tattoo of an eye. The man was dressed in a white t-shirt. On the front of it was the text Northern Sideloaders LTD. On the back was Commanders Sideloaders. He also wore a black sweater, a khaki-beige coat with a fur collar, brown ribbed pants, and beige suede shoes.
I was wondering whether you would happen to recognize his face (see photo: https://www.politie.nl/binaries/standaard/content/gallery/politie/gezocht/dossiers/2018/06-dh/cck-2018/week-49.jpg).
He may have worked at your company, hence the text on his t-shirt.
Gershon S. Lehrer
I have also contacted the Police through their dedicated website at https://www.politie.nl/gezocht-en-vermist/dossiers/formulier/2018/06-a’s-gravenzande-dode-onbekende-man-in-staelduinsebos/s-gravenzande-dode-onbekende-man-in-staelduinsebos.html
Let’s hope that it will be possible to close this cold case soon and that any possible wrongdoers will be caught.
Here are some interesting reads:
- Study: DNA websites cast broad net for identifying people: https://apnews.com/308188da734f404e9c2aa5988dd5ba74
- We will find you: DNA search used to nab Golden State Killer can home in on about 60% of white Americans: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/we-will-find-you-dna-search-used-nab-golden-state-killer-can-home-about-60-white