SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns continue to look for ways to keep themselves occupied while in isolation at home, some state officials are encouraging them to find some time to solve a murder mystery.
Not a board game, but a real-life cold case homicide.
The Utah Department of Public Safety recently revamped its cold case website, which includes unsolved murders and missing people. As of Wednesday, Utah has 249 unsolved homicides and 125 missing people on its website.
When combined with unidentified deceased people, there are more than 400 cold cases in Utah.
Cold case criminal analyst Kathy Mackay said the process of revamping the state’s cold case website actually began more than a year ago. The state has a private database for law enforcement to use, as well as a public website.
The public website revision was just recently completed, and Mackay admits it wasn't a coincidence to try and get it done while most residents are stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m hoping people are in front of their computers and they’ll take a look at the website and get familiar with the cases,” she said. “We would like the public to help.”
It’s through the public that investigators sometimes receive their best tips.
In 2018, a tip from a woman in California who authorities say was fascinated with true crime stories led investigators to identify a woman known only as the “Maidenwater victim,” who was found dead of a gunshot wound in 1998 near Lake Powell.
Because of that tip, police were able to get a picture of Lina Reyes-Geddes, 37, for the first time. The hope is that with the new website, similar information about other victims will be submitted.
“We need pictures, or any information,” Mackay said.
The new public cold case website, bci.utah.gov/coldcases, includes a search tab for the first time, she said, instead of having to scroll through 400 cases. Cases have also been separated into three categories: unsolved murders, unidentified persons and missing persons. Each case also provides the user with the opportunity to leave a tip simply by clicking the contact information under each case profile.
Mackay said the public can use both Utah’s website and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons website to research cases.
“We would like the public to help,” she said. “Lets get some case solved or some information.”