Seattle Cold Case Unit Shuts Down after Losing Federal Grant

Sunday, November 25, 2012
King County cold case cards

Seattle-area criminals who have gotten away with murder over the years are rejoicing this week, as a local cold case unit prepares to shutter its doors at the end of the year. Building on an effort that began in 2006, the King County Sheriff’s Office started a cold-case squad in 2009 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that funded two full-time detectives and a crime analyst. The grant was renewed for 2012, but not for 2013, forcing King County to supplement the unit’s budget so it could keep its doors open until the end of December.


Many cold cases remain, but police admit that without funding they will have no time to investigate them properly. According to the Sheriff’s website, the squad has a library of 223 cases, some dating back to the 1940s, including 149 homicides and 74 missing person cases. “Loss of the funding is a real blow, and it means some cases will likely go unsolved,” said King County Sheriff-elect John Urquhart.


Nevertheless, over just four years, the squad identified suspects in eight killings: those of Arlene Roberts, Nicole Pietz, Ken Ruffer, Frank Kouny, Mike Emert, Becky Marrero, Paul Audett and Katherine LaRocca. Some of these cases yielded convictions, in some the likely killer is dead, and others have yet to go to trial.


Given the tight budgets associated with the Great Recession, the Sheriff’s Office cannot afford to reinstate the squad on its own, so evidence from cold cases will remain in a warehouse. The Seattle area will not be entirely without cold case detectives, however, because the Seattle Police Department has a cold case squad that will remain in business. It has solved about 30 cold case homicides, according to the Police Department website.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

King County Cold-Case Unit to be Closed (by Alexa Vaughn, Seattle Times)

King County Sheriff’s Cold Case Squad Coming to an End (by Dana Rebik, Q13 FOX News)


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