Can Retired Detectives Help Solve Cold Cases in St. Louis?
ST. LOUIS —
Could retired police officers help solve cold cases?
Some of them in St. Louis said that it’s possible.
Allman Reporter Aisha Khan sat down with two grieving mothers weighing in on how this effort could help bring closure.
The moms she spoke with told her that frustration doesn’t begin to describe their ordeal.
Both mothers are asking local law enforcement agencies to consider enlisting the help of officers who have spent time as detectives.
Some retired officers Aisha spoke with said that they’re on board if the right protocols are in place.
“It’s like they were brothers, just inseparable,” said Maria Miller of St. Louis City, talking about her son and younger brother, both of whom she said were murdered months apart in 2014 and their killer was never found.
“They were cheated out of life they were both so young," Miller said.
She along with Theda Wilson, another grieving St. Louis mother have been looking for answers.
Wilson said that her son has been missing for 13 years and doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive.
“They don’t just go missing without any answers but someone knows the answer,” Wilson said.
The mothers said that police have worked on their cases but haven’t come up with any leads so far which is something they said that could maybe use the help of retired detectives while current full-time officers devote their time to other police duties.
“When you call a detective about your child over and over again, they can barely even return a call because they’re so over worked,” Miller said.
“Who would know it better than them?" remarked Wilson, "they may know the shortcuts that some of the rookies don’t know, it’s experience, nothing like experience.”
And experience is what former city homicide detective, Steve Harmon brings.
Harmon said that right now there are hundreds of cold cases just within the city that retired officers like him would be interested in looking into even if that means on a volunteer basis.
“I have personally investigated hundreds of homicides during my ten years in the homicide section and the investigative part pretty much stays the same," said Harmon, "all we want to do is just help the St. Louis Police Department, a police department that we have all worked for, love and care about.”
Meanwhile, Joe Burgoon retired as city homicide detective in 2005 but now spends time at the county police department going through several cold cases dating as far back as the late 70’s.
Since 2005 he’s reviewed 99 open cases, six of which were homicides and all closed with arrests and convictions.
“I just go through them one at a time and review them again," Burgoon explained, "sometimes I look over what I had missed and I go back and these guys don’t have the time to really look at them, they have to look at the fresh cases trying to make the streets safe.”
“I am hoping this is the answer for justice,” said Miller.
“Justice and peace is what these officers could provide us with,” said Wilson.
Harmon said that in order to move forward with such an idea it would have to be approved by the city legislature which has control of the police department and the retired officer may even need to have through a background check.
The city police department told Aisha that it has proposed a program to bring back some retired detectives to assist in the area detective bureaus but because they are in the early planning stages it would be premature to talk about the program at this time.