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San Bernardino 'cold cases' reexamined

June 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Bernardino County is making a new effort to solve old crimes. The Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office are joining forces to use new technology to unravel some of their old cases. The teamwork is already paying off. "I never gave up hope, I kept calling and calling, and doing everything I could," said Susan Waller.

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Susan Waller's mother Janet Kirkup was killed 16 years ago. But now she hopes her case is solved.

Authorities say last week, the victim's husband, 69-year-old Robert Kirkup, confessed to the killing. This in part because of a new focus on cold cases in San Bernardino County.

"I just want to bring my mom home," said Waller.

But that's only one case. The Sheriff's Department and District Attorney have now formed a unit to look into hundreds of unsolved murder cases dating back to the early 1950s.

"As my chief victim advocate says, it may be a cold case to us because it's old, but it's never a cold case to family members," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos.

Just to give you an idea of how many unsolved cases we're talking about, a vehicle evidence yard is packed with cars and trucks related to unsolved cases, and authorities are hoping that all of these vehicles might some day be used as evidence in solving cold cases.

Some of these vehicles are more than 20 years old. With bullet holes and broken glass, authorities are hoping new technology and a new emphasis on old crimes will help bring criminals to justice.

"In the last month, they've already looked at 35 cases, some of them are decades old, and we feel it's so important to bring closure to the families that we're pursuing this as hard as we possibly can," said San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod.

They are efforts that have helped one family move forward.

Still, there's a lot of work ahead, with more than 600 cold cases left to solve.

 

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