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‘They Don’t Go Away’: Sheriff Gore Explains How Technology Helps Crack Cold Cases Decades Later

After a man’s murder in Lemon Grove was solved 31 years later, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore explained how rapid advancements in DNA testing have helped solve cases in ways that used to be unfathomable.

“Before it was from your blood or semen, you think of the violent crimes, now we’re solving a lot of property crimes by getting DNA from the steering wheel of a stolen car, from a fingerprint on a broken window, that type of thing,” said Gore.

With modern technology, it’s now possible for law enforcement to look back at cases that span decades and discover new DNA samples, in areas that weren’t accessible before.

A few decades ago, Gore said they would not have even considered getting DNA from some of the places they can now.

In November 2004, voters passed Proposition 69, the “DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act,’ that allowed police to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested in California. Gore explained how that new legislation has greatly expanded their database of DNA.

“When we started at our database in California, known DNA specimens were about a quarter of a million. Now it’s about two and a half million,” said Gore.

“You match that new technology, that ability to get new DNA from smaller and smaller specimens with a big database to compare it against and you start solving these old cases,” said Gore.

Still, regardless of how advanced the technology has become, Gore reminded NBC 7 that it wouldn’t be possible to crack all these cases without hard work and dedication.

“You can’t say enough about the cold case homicide team that we have, that takes the time to go through these old files,” said Gore.

Just because a case hasn’t been solved for decades doesn’t mean the suspect won’t ever be caught.

“These homicide cases unsolved, they don’t go away, we don’t close them and put them aside,” added Gore. “And now we have the manpower to go through and start doggedly going through these old cases, looking at maybe incomplete, and investigations that wasn’t done.”

“It’s a matter of a lot of elbow grease from a lot of really good detectives and using the technology we have at our fingertips now,” said Gore.

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