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how to start a cold case investigation

If you’re thinking about becoming a cold case private investigator, you’ll need to know how to do it. Cold cases can be very confusing; there’s a reason the trail’s gone cold, after all. Especially if you’re hoping to utilize your skills for important cases like cold case homicide investigations, you’ll need to hone your skills substantially. From skip tracing to phone appends, here’s how to make cold case private investigations a little easier.

Tools and Supplies You’ll Need for a Cold Case Investigation


First and foremost, there are some tools and supplies you’ll need if you want to conduct a cold case investigation. Often, cold cases run cold simply because the people involved don’t have the detective tools they need to find people.

The tools you might need to conduct a thorough investigation include the following:
 

  • Court evidence
  • Existing case files
  • Access to witnesses
  • Police records
  • Interview records
  • Deceased records

This is just a sampling of the tools that might be most beneficial during a cold case investigation. In general, you want as much information as possible. That’s how you’re going to be most likely to find the culprit. Especially if you can use criminal defense law investigations software and similar tools, which someone may use to defend an accused criminal, you’ll be much more likely to stay one step ahead of the defense.

The Process of Completing a Cold Case Investigation

So what is a cold case investigation, and how can you start and complete one? The process is relatively simple; it’s about having the right tools and supplies, then following them to their eventual end. Here’s how you can do that.

Gather Existing Evidence 

The first step is to gather all the evidence that currently exists regarding the cold case. That may include client collections of evidence, information from crime and criminal investigations, and even social media data. Especially when it comes to a cold case, gathering all existing evidence is crucial because it will help you develop an understanding of where you are currently.

There are plenty of legal research tools you can use to gather this evidence. Even if you’re not officially connected with the case, you might be able to gather a lot of evidence just through requests for information. Much of the information connected to cold cases are now in the public domain, whether because it’s been so long or because journalists have requested it.

Start Contacting Anyone Who Might Have More Information

Next, you need to locate witnesses. This is typically the part that causes the case to become “cold.” Even with the best private investigative tools, you need to be willing to do your own legwork to come up with answers for many of the things you’re looking through. Cold case investigations typically require that you talk to a lot of people.

Ideally, you first want to find people of interest and all their available public records. From there, when you contact someone, you’ll be able to ask them questions that these public records didn’t already cover. To make sure you don’t ask questions that you already technically had the answer to, you’ll want to do as much legal research as possible early on in the process.

Work the Case to Completion Through This Process 

Essentially, this requires that you repeat the first and second steps until the case is complete. This can seem difficult, time-consuming and frustrating, and the truth is that it can be all three of these things. However, if you’re willing to put your back into it, going through identity verification and authentication for your witnesses, you’ll eventually end up with as much information as you need to pick up the ends of the case.

To solve a cold case, you’re going to constantly gather new information, maintain ongoing monitoring, look for ways that information might connect to the case, then locate more witnesses and ask more questions. You’ll do this over and over again until you have an answer. It’s time-consuming, but it’s definitely rewarding.

Tips for Cold Case Investigations


As you can see, a cold case investigation isn’t as difficult as it might seem at first. It’s true that the trail’s gone cold for a reason, but a surprising amount of the time, it’s just because people didn’t know how to go further. If you have the right private investigating tools available to ensure right-party contact, you can handle cold case investigations much more easily. It may even become more than just a hobby for you.

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