FOX 12 teams up with Portland Police Cold Case Unit - KPTV - FOX 12

FOX 12 teams up with Portland Police Cold Case Unit

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For more than 300 families in Portland, there are no answers, there is no justice.  These are the families and loved ones of unsolved murder victims. 

And now, FOX 12 is teaming up with the Portland Police Bureau's Cold Case Homicide Unit to help solve these cases for FOX 12's Most Wanted Cold Case Unit.

Each Thursday, on the 10 O'clock News, FOX 12 will profile a Portland unsolved homicide. 

Our cameras have been granted unprecedented access to the Cold Case Homicide Unit detectives and to the evidence from these cases. We also speak with victims' loved ones as they continue to wait for answers.

The Portland Police Bureau's Cold Case Homicide Unit is a team of detectives, both sworn and retired, that are dedicated to solving these challenging cases.

"We want all those victims' families to know their case matters. We're not just gonna throw it up on a shelf and not do anything with it," said Sgt. Paul Weatheroy, who supervises the Cold Case Homicide Unit. "We want those suspects to know, we never give up, they need to look over their shoulder to know when we're coming."

Weatheroy has been with the Portland Police Bureau for 25 years, the last seven years with the Cold Case Homicide Unit.  He said it's a rewarding assignment, in which detectives develop strong bonds with the victims' families.

"Some of these older cases, from the 60s, 70s, 80s, they've been carrying that pain for all that time, " Weatheroy said.

In addition to the unit's three sworn full-time investigators,  a joint grant from the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense pays six retired detectives to work part-time reviewing cold cases.

"I missed the hunt or the chase and the ability to come up and be with peers," said retired detective Dennis Baker, who now works part-time reviewing cases. 

Sworn detective Jim Lawrence says working cold case is the most rewarding assignment he's had as a police officer. 

"I'll look at what the original investigators did and what we have left," said Lawrence. "In 99 percent of our cases, they were on the right track. In most of our cases, the original investigating detectives identified the suspect, but couldn't collect the evidence at the time that would convict them beyond a reasonable doubt."

Since Weatheroy took the reins, he's been aggressive about community outreach.  The unit has employed some unusual tactics, like distributing playing cards with unsolved cases in Oregon prisons and plastering TriMet buses with murder victims' photos.

"I got a letter in relation to the playing cards who's in custody who says he has information about a homicide, three homicides and he wants to come and talk to me, " Weatheroy said.

Detective Jeanne Stevenson has been with the unit for five years.  She said technology has made a huge difference in how these cases are investigated, but for her, they can become personal.

"You get close to the families," Stevenson said.  "You really have to put your heart and soul in these cases."

Next Thursday on the 10 O'Clock News, we'll revisit the 2001 unsolved murder of Joshua Jeffries, an 11-year-old boy who was shot to death in his own bed.  You'll hear from detectives on why they think this case went cold and from the boy's aunt, 10 years after the murder.

FOX 12'S Most Wanted Cold Case Unit. Every Thursday on the 10 O'Clock News.

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