APPLETON — The
four candidates for Wisconsin attorney general praised the state
Department of Justice for its strides in solving cold cases, and
all four pledged to keep up the pressure on tackling unsolved
The state has at
least 300 unsolved homicides dating back to 2003, Post-Crescent
Media reported Monday (http://post.cr/1ltfAgN
). The state has relied on federal funds to help finance cold case
investigations, but as the money dried up cases have languished.
Institute of Justice, a federal agency in Washington, D.C., plays
the main role in providing extra cold case funding. The last large
disbursement in Wisconsin was in 2010 when the state Justice
Department received $506,000, which it used to reopen 72 cold
The candidates to
replace outgoing Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen proposed
variations of the same theme in addressing the issue.
Schimel and Democrats Ismael Ozanne and Susan Happ are district
attorneys and recalled their own work on cold cases. They said
they'd like to see more state funding for the cases as well as the
creative use of existing funds.
growing up in Jefferson County, where the battered bodies of two
teenage sweethearts were found in the woods in 1977. Authorities
reopened the case in 2009 with federal funds and retested DNA
evidence, which led to the arrest of a serial killer who confessed
to the homicides.
She said she
would prioritize the search for extra funding because she saw
firsthand the difference the money can make in solving old crimes.
Schimel said he
worked on the reopened case of a 20-year-old woman who disappeared
from West Allis in 1988 and is presumed dead. He praised the
current relationship between the state Justice Department and
local agencies, and said if elected he'd continue to strengthen
Ozanne noted that
cold cases can involve extra staff time, travel expense and DNA
testing. He said he'd like to see the Legislature make more
Rep. Jon Richards said he would like to see the Justice Department
provide more resources up front, to keep cases from going cold in
the first place.