“The problem with these cases is that we pick it up, start looking at it and then, boom. Another one happens,” Reynolds said.
The GBI’s unit is comprised of investigators who had previously retired from the agency, Reynolds said. That includes the unit’s leader, 34-year GBI veteran Chris Tolbert, who retired as an inspector in March. According to Reynolds, each member of the team averages 27 years of investigative experience.
The unit is still in talks with regional directors to determine which cases will be their initial focus.
“In running a cold case unit, you have to develop solvability criteria,” Reynolds said. “That might be whether or not a case has evidence that may contain unidentified DNA, or that hasn’t been tested. We’ll take on cases we believe have strong solvability factors, and I believe we will start solving cases very soon.”
Reynolds said the cold case unit will collaborate with GBI’s Crime Lab to uncover forensic evidence that could lead to answers in the cases.
In October, the agency announced that information from confessed serial killer Samuel Little coupled with DNA evidence had helped it solve the murder of a woman in Dade County that happened 39 years ago. In January, the crime lab used DNA taken from skeletal remains to determine who killed a 13-year-old girl that disappeared from Warner Robins in 1974.
“They realize this is a priority,” he said. “I don’t anticipate manpower or time being a factor here.”