Private investigators offer victims and loved ones a second chance when a case goes cold. Cold cases are the injustices that go unaddressed and largely forgotten by everyone but the victim’s family. Pulling together enough evidence to identify a culprit and bring them to trial is difficult, and sometimes police need a helping hand in order to deliver justice. Private investigators have been brought in to help solve cold cases since the profession came to be. They still help with difficult cases today.
Although locked room murders usually only show up in detective novels, they occasionally happen in real life. In 2010, traveling salesman Greg Fleniken walked into his hotel room at the Elegante Hotel in Texas. A few hours later, he was dead. At first glance, police assumed he had died a natural death, but after a thorough investigation, a series of internal injuries caused by blunt force trauma revealed the truth. Someone murdered Fleniken. The first round of examinations failed to turn up a viable suspect, and the case started going cold. The victim’s widow turned to a private investigator for help. The PI teamed up with a local detective, and they reexamined the case. The truth wound up being stranger than fiction.
Greg Fleniken’s internal injuries came from a bullet fired through the adjoining wall. The entry wound was so small; investigators mistook it as a bruise. Fleniken had no enemies. His killer, one of three electricians in the next room, accidentally fired a gun during a night of heavy drinking. The group did not report the incident or check on the occupant of the room next door. With the help of a private investigator, however, Fleniken’s story wasn’t lost to a box full of cold cases.
There are plenty of reasons young women keep an eye out for their friends when they go out for a night on the town. Everyone knows a horror story about some girl who wandered off from the pack and never came back. Angela Samota’s is one such tale. Her best friend, Sheila Gibbons, never recovered from the news of Samota’s brutal murder. For twenty years, that crime remained unsolved. However, Gibbons wasn’t giving up. She transformed an entire room of her home into a research center to try to put the pieces together, and she acquired an official PI license. That license went to work. Gibbons pressured police to reopen the case, provided her own insights, and kept working to find the culprit for her friend’s murder. Eventually, the police agreed to retest evidence for DNA. They found the murderer, a previously convicted violent rapist, and brought him to trial.
There are many examples of cold cases solved through the efforts of private investigators. The critical thing to remember is that, no matter how long a case has to go cold, there’s always hope for a conviction. No matter how unusual the crime or how disinterested the local authorities have grown, PIs can help.