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Columbus police hope to get tips on unresolved homicides through new database

Soumil Kumar

Columbus police are hopeful that a new feature on their website will encourage the public to offer up tips on unsolved murders in the city.

The new database lists murders in the city going back through 2019. There are plans to add the cases going back to Columbus’ oldest unsolved case in 1955, said police Commander Robert Strausbaugh.

You can access the database here.

The database includes information about the victim and the circumstances of their deaths, along with their photo. Strausbaugh said the department will add photos and information to the listings if loved ones of the people on the list reach out.

“We didn’t have anything up on our webpage where the community, which is vital to solving homicides, could go and look at our old cases and make a tip,” Strausbaugh said.

Strausbaugh said the strategy is an attempt to remind people that the victims were once alive, have loved ones out there and that anyone with information about their deaths ought to give their families peace and closure by coming forward.

He said the city is calling the cases “unsolved” instead of “cold.”

“I changed it from cold case to unsolved murders, because I wanted to make sure we understood the verbiage. The verbiage is these young men and women were taken away from their families and they were murdered,” Strausbaugh said.

Tipsters can maintain anonymity by clicking the link to report the information directly to Crimestoppers. Or, tipsters can report the information to the department’s unsolved case unit through a link under the case information. Those who want to remain anonymous throughout the process should keep their tips to Crimestoppers, Strausbaugh said.

Once a case is solved, Strausbaugh said they plan to leave the case up with a label declaring it “solved,” to show the community their tips helped.

Strausbaugh encouraged people to share the cases with friends, family and social media circles to pressure people who may have information to come forward.

“Some of our homicide detectives, some of our investigations, are this close. They’re this close, they just need some substantiation and that could be somebody out in the community that knows something,” said Strausbaugh.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.