Human Justice Department Chair Dr. Chuck Russo and faculty member Jennifer Bucholtz have been working to establish a volunteer team of faculty and students to investigate unsolved homicide cases. They expect the Cold Case Investigative Team to be officially sanctioned by the University in early 2023 and are currently developing a vetting process for interested students.
Success in Investigating Two Cold Cases
Bucholtz and her investigative partner, George Jared, an Arkansas journalist and author, have had recent success regarding two cold cases. The first cold case they worked on together – reinvestigating the 16-year-old unsolved murder of Rebekah Gould – resulted in an arrest being made in November 2020. The defendant, whom Bucholtz and Jared communicated with via social media, is expected to appear on trial later this year.
For their second case, Bucholtz and Jared collaborated with the Lubbock (Texas) Police Department over the past year on the unsolved murder of Deborah Sue Williamson, who was murdered in 1975. Their team’s efforts have led to new leads and information, which have been shared with Lubbock’s Police Department.
Looking for their Next Unsolved Homicide to Investigate
While the Lubbock Police Department awaits the results from new DNA testing efforts, Bucholtz and Jared are starting a selection process for their next investigation. They’ve developed a case submission form for anyone who would like to submit a case for consideration.
There is no requirement that a person submitting a cold case be related to the victim. However, there are a couple of parameters to consider.
At this time, the Cold Case Investigative Team is not equipped with the resources to investigate a missing persons case, in which no body has been found. Instead, the team plans to investigate a cold case that has been positively identified as a homicide by law enforcement and for which the victim’s body has been recovered.
Ideally, these cold cases will be several years old and deemed inactive, so that the Cold Case Investigative Team will have a better chance of obtaining pertinent case file documents. Bucholtz and Jared also hope to focus on a case that has received little media attention.
How Cold Cases Are Investigated and Publicized
Bucholtz and Jared reinvestigate every aspect of the case that they can access, including:
- Re-interviewing witnesses and other persons of interest
- Traveling to key locations associated with the crime
- Conducting professional re-creations of the murder
- Leading analytical discussions with online communities
- Using in-depth crowdsourcing
Bucholtz and Jared provide coverage of the facts in each cold case and their investigative actions across multiple media platforms, including:
- The University podcast series Break the Case, hosted by Bucholtz
- Jared’s podcast, Diamond State: Murder Board
- A series of articles published on the University’s blog
- YouTube videos on Bucholtz’s channel
- Various social media sites
- Interviews on third-party podcasts
- Live presentations when available
Bucholtz and Jared have presented their work on the Rebekah Gould case at CrimeCon 2021. The team also has several volunteer forensic experts willing to provide their skills and services to an investigating authority.
Learning More about the Gould and Williamson Cold Cases
To learn more about Bucholtz’s and Jared’s past work and successes, please listen to Season 1 and 2 of Break the Case and read Bucholtz’s in-depth series of articles on Rebekah Gould and Debbie Williamson. Readers can also view several videos on each case on Bucholtz’s YouTube channel.
Anyone who has questions about the investigative team or case submissions may email the team at breakthecaseAMU@gmail.com.