SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The Santa Clara Police Department is asking for the public’s help solving a half dozen cold case murders — investigations that have haunted and bedeviled the department for decades.
“We always have these cold cases assigned to someone. They’re never not assigned. The actual physical files live in our investigation division,” said Capt. Wahid Kazem.
Kazem acknowledges that the older a case gets, the harder it generally becomes to solve. The public’s attention, fleeting even in the best of times, turns to other stories. Memories fades. Promising investigative leads turn into dead ends.
The department’s goal is to spark renewed interest and attention in old cases like the murder of 74-year-old Neil Henry.
Henry volunteered in the city’s crossing guard program and was well known to police officers. At the time of his death, he was working as a clerk at a liquor store. He arrived to work on a January morning in 2003 and interrupted a robbery by a group of thieves who’s cut a hole in the wall of the store.
“The suspects assaulted Neil to the point where he was hospitalized. He ended up dying several days later in the hospital,” said Kazem.
Detectives collected boxes full of evidence: photos of the crime scene and Henry, whose eyes were blackened and swollen shut by the beating he received. But they never had enough evidence to charge or convict someone and the case went unsolved.
“Especially having one of our own — a volunteer here at the police department — it definitely hit home,” said Jamie Caron-Clarkson, a friend of Henry’s.
In each of the six cases, detective say they lack physical evidence that could steer them towards a subject. But they remain convinced that someone knows something that could help them crack the case.
Interested parties can learn more about the cold cases the Santa Clara police are seeking help with at the department’s website.