MPD hopes new hotline may break the ice on cold cases

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Police Department is launching a new hotline specifically for cold cases, hoping to get more tips that will help them find families justice.

The cold case unit let WREG shadow them for the afternoon to understand what they plan to do and why the hotline is needed.

"We have three full-time investigators during the day, and then two part-time investigators plus a part-time analyst," said MPD Lt. Tony Mullins. "I know in a month's time, one investigator or two investigators working together may touch 19 or 20 cases. It may be more than that in another month."

Mullins said there are thousands of unsolved murders that date back decades.

"We have enough going on right now just in the 10 years that could keep us busy for quite a while," he explained.

He told us they manage, because "they multitask a lot."

We watched them do just that. Detectives dig into rows of filing cabinets and shuffle through stacks on their desk. They also showed us big books of case files that list unsolved cases going back to the 1930s.

"The difficulties you have as an investigator just get amplified because it's cold," said Mullins.

A case goes cold after a year with no new leads, and their job is to find one. Mullins said the unit will look at a cold case, and resubmitting DNA evidence or trying to track down witnesses again.

"They keep working on those cases. A little bit here. A little bit here. A little bit here until they get them done," he said.

Mullins and other detectives agreed a big problem: No one is willing to talk.

"If people cooperated more, we would not have as many cold cases as we have," said part-time investigator W.D. Merritt. "We have cases that people have committed murder and got away with it, because people didn't want to get involved. They go out and do it again. There's no doubt that happens."

With so many dead ends, the team started brainstorming. They decided to try something new to get people to come forward.

"We wanted a number that people can call 24 hours a day that is dedicated just to cold case," said Mullins. "The investigator will get it, review the case and make contact with that person. Maybe get the ball rolling on a whole new investigation."

They hope it reignites some cases and finally gives families the answers they deserve.

"The grief that the families go through, we go through a lot of that grief with them," said Mullins. "To get that final bit of information to give them closure and some kind of peace, it's a good feeling, it really is."

The new hotline is now up and running. The number is 901-636-COLD.

Just leave them message giving as much info as you can. All calls are confidential, and you can will remain anonymous.

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