Across the state, more than 1,200 cold cases remain unsolved. But beginning November 1, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will begin dedicating new resources to solving those cases.
The OSBI is creating a special cold case unit. The unit will work out of the Forensic Science Center in Edmond. The members of the unit will be looking at old evidence and working closely with analysts and criminalists.
Tracey Neilson was found murdered on her 21st birthday nearly 40 years ago. Her death is one of an estimated 1,276 murder or missing person's cold cases across Oklahoma, according to the OSBI.
In January of 1981, Tracey’s husband found her stabbed to death on their bed after returning home with her birthday gift.
“There is a huge emotional burden that’s placed on the family and extended family,” said her husband Dr. Jeffery Neilson.
“I can’t imagine the pain of someone who lost someone, and no one was ever brought to justice for it,” said Jordan Solorzano with the OSBI.
The OSBI says recently upgraded forensics systems, however, could help bring that justice.
“We have tests that are available that we can get hits on cases where we couldn’t get hits in the past, partial prints, palm prints, things of that nature. There are tests that we can extract more DNA then we could 20 years ago,” said Solorzano.
That’s why the OSBI will be dedicating one agent and one analyst to review that evidence. They will also be reaching out to law enforcement across the state.
“We want to get answers for the people who can no longer speak for themselves and their families,” said Solorzano.
The agency plans to add another agent to the unit mid-November, hoping to grow the unit over time.