KUSA - Families of dozens of murder victims in Colorado met with cold case detectives Saturday, in an effort to advocate for their loved ones and, hopefully, get a break in their cases.
Since 1970, there have been 1,538 unsolved murder and missing person cases in Colorado. Thirty-eight percent of all homicides in the state remain unsolved.
Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons holds an annual conference to connect victims' loved ones with each other and law enforcement officials. This year the keynote speaker was Kim Goldman, sister of Ron Goldman. He was murdered alongside Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994. Simpson's ex-husband O.J. Simpson was acquitted in the criminal trial, but he was later held responsible for the deaths in a civil case.
Andrea Alexander's son James Nunley was murdered outside their Denver home in 2004.
"I come to follow up on his case to make sure it's not forgotten," Alexander said. "I want to know who killed my son."
Tamieka Bunting's sister Phlisia was 16 years old when she was murdered in Grand Junction almost 30 years ago. Bunting says a new detective assigned to the case has been re-interviewing people mentioned in the case file.
"What we sow, we reap," Bunting said. She has hope justice will prevail in her sister's case someday.
"It doesn't matter how long - 50 years," Bunting said.
Half of Colorado's unsolved homicides occurred in Denver. Denver Police Commander Ronald Saunier says face-to-face communication with the victim's friends and family is an important element in moving the case forward.
"They have to be the advocate for the person. They need to be the voice that carries on," Saunier said. "By showing up here, the case is going to be taken off the shelf and re-reviewed."
The Denver Police Department has dedicated five homicide detectives to the cold case files. They recently received a $500,000 Department of Justice grant to do DNA analysis on cold cases. The detectives are reviewing cases from 1995 to 2008 as a part of the grant.
Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons is working on a public service campaign to raise awareness on cold case murders across the state. The organization is also working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to create a hotline number for tips.
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