AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The families of unsolved murder victims and missing persons are asking lawmakers to make some changes to Maine's Cold Case Unit. They are supporting a bill that would alter the way the unit investigates cases, and how it deals with the media and the public.
Among other things, the bill would:
Require state police to hold a news conference or issue a press release on the anniversary of every cold case. There are currently 79 unsolved homicides and 28 missing persons cases on the state website. Allow families to talk with investigative journalists and require investigators to cooperate with those journalists. Allow families to ask outside agencies to help in cases 10 years or older.
Dick Moreau, whose daughter Kimberly has been missing since 1986, testfied before the committee. He supports the bill.
"Unfortunately we know it's going to occur again but if we have better tools in place we will be able to help families," he said. He like others who testified complained about a lack of communication by the cold case squad.
But the Maine Attorney Generals Office and Maine State Police oppose the bill, saying revealing too much information is harmful and a close to the vest approach helps investigators weed out tips that are credible or not. Maine State Police Colonel Robert Williams says they have made progress reviewing 114 cases, conducting more than one hundred interviews and even closing one of those cold cases by indicting Burton Hagar for the 1979 murder of his infant child. He feels the unit has accomplished a lot in 14 months.
"I think we should wait and see what the outcome is in another year and if they determine we need more help then we'll forward legislation for it," Williams said.
The cold case families at the hearing feel there's nothing to lose by making these changes
"After several years you should be able to hire a retired detective you should have media put the story out there...people talk and tips can come in cases this happens all the tips," explained Linda Perkins, whose husband has been missing since 1975.
The bill must go before the criminal justice committee for a work session and a vote before it could move forward.
Anyone with information about a cold case can share their information with investigators. Click here to see the list of cold cases maintained by Maine State Police for public review.