Behind the scenes with LRPD homicide detectives

    9:59 PM, Sep 8, 2010   |    comments
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    "We have files into 1967," says Charlotte Pack. She's in charge of the Little Rock police case file room.

    Yes it can be overwhelming. There's file after file after file and many of them are unsolved murders. There's somewhere around 200.

    "I am out of space. I am totally out of room now," explains Pack.

    It's a tedious job for Pack. Everything that goes in and out of the room she approves and documents. Detectives used to be able to leave with a case file whenever they pleased, but that changed in 1998 when the department became accredited. Everyone who now comes in must sign in, including Today's THV.

    "It makes it simpler and it gives us a way of check points to make certain that the information will be used for the detectives or whoever needs to review the file that it is all there and in order," says Pack.

    And the evidence warehouse is no different. Officer Bruce Jones says everything must be signed out. There's row after row of likely hundreds of boxes. As for what's in them, only detectives know. It could be clothes, jewelry or murder weapons.

    All of it though is key details that may be helpful in one day solving a case. None of it will ever be thrown out.

    "You think this ought to be solved," says Jones. "People in the public would say that case ought to be solved because they have that information, but there is not enough there for the prosecutor to go on. Those cases drive you nuts. They will keep you up at night."

    Five months ago, LRPD formed a cold case squad. So far, Sgt. Mike Durham and his team have solved four murders.

    Durham explains, "It's not like an overnight deal."

    They have about 10 cases they're currently working on and with many of them, DNA is being tested which could lead to a suspect, but Jones stresses that might take months.

    He says, "You basically have to open the case and start all over. You have to start from step one."

    And with 200 unsolved murders, there's plenty of work to be done. Meantime, the case file room will keep growing.

    Pack adds, "It is very interesting and it is very sad."

    For police, the driving force is the victims who need a voice and justice.

    LRPD detectives say the public should not be alarmed with the high number of cold cases since they date back over the last four decades.

    With dozens of murders every year, their solve rate is about 75 percent. That is 25 percent higher than the national average.

    If you know of an unsolved Arkansas murder or missing persons case, e-mail us at news@todaysthv.com.

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