OUR POSITION: Cold case units have proven to be beneficial in crime solving and the creation of one for the 20th Judicial Circuit's State Attorney's office should pay big dividends.
Amira Fox, 20th Judicial Circuit state attorney, has formed a cold case unit, and the move has already paid dividends.
In a press release, Fox announced that her cold case crew and the Lee County Sheriff's Office made their first arrest Sept. 1. Terry McDonald was arrested and charged in the 14-year-old murder of Mary Mount.
The 28-year-old Mount was last seen in Lee County in 2004 and her case was one of the first Fox charged her unit to take on. It took trips to Arizona and Texas, where McDonald was incarcerated for another crime, to gather all the evidence needed. With the new evidence, the two law enforcement agencies were able to press charges in Mount's death.
"This is a case we have never given up on," Fox said in the press release.
That's great news for families of victims still waiting for justice. Kudos to Fox for her decision to fund a cold case team.
The state attorney has promised the group will work with local law enforcement agencies to solve crimes that have puzzled investigators for years.
Hopefully, that teamwork will include working with Charlotte County Sheriff's Office cold case team members on crimes such as the Sharon Gill murder.
The 42-year-old Gill was found murdered in her Rampart Boulevard home in Deep Creek on March 21, 1990. According to the CCSO, she was alone at the time of the incident and there were no signs of forced entry into the home.
The case has been a challenge for law enforcement from the beginning, as more than one suspect has been targeted over the years. There has never been enough evidence, however, to charge anyone.
Shawn Malsky has been one of those prime suspects. He was even once arrested for the crime. Recently, however, the CCSO cold case team has begun to concentrate on other possible murderers, according to a recent Sun story.
It seems detectives have found a DNA profile at the scene in Deep Creek as a result of new testing. Whether or not that testing will lead to a new suspect is unknown, however.
Cold case units, such as the one working for the state attorney and the CCSO team, are always looking for tips and even listening to rumors and gossip to help point them in the right direction. They are interested in speaking with anyone who knew a victim or knew friends and acquaintances of victims who may remember something that could have seemed insignificant at the time of the crime.
"Sometimes there's truth to some rumors," CCSO detective Mike Gandy said. "If someone has heard a rumor, and they don't know the source ... there may be some facts in what they've heard, even if they don't know what the source was."
Cold case teams put in long hours, likely often frustrated by dead ends, but their work often pays off in bringing someone to justice. We hope the state attorney and CCSO, along with other law enforcement agencies, can work together to solve some crimes that have allowed the guilty parties to go free too long.