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Solving the Unsolvable: Austin police's Cold Case Unit, DA's Office team up

The unit has been working with the Travis County District Attorney's Office and it's helped police open a lot of doors.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin police Cold Case Unit works on solving the most difficult cases in Austin. Just last week, it was able to indict someone for a 2016 murder, but it's also with the help of the Travis County District Attorney's Office.


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“We work very closely with them,” said Detective Ryan Metcalf with the Austin police Cold Case Unit. “Whenever we start getting traction or getting some leads in a case, we will bring one of them on board and start working the case side-by-side, because ultimately when they complete a case, they’ll be taking it to court.”


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“We’re there to brainstorm with them how to get the case to the point where we can prosecute it,” said Margaret Moore, Travis County District Attorney. 

The faces of solved cases, victims and their stories line the wall of the Cold Case Unit. Detectives said they see it as motivation. 

"As realization that the years of work that we put into these cases, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that these cases do have the possibility of being resolved,” said Detective Brad Herries.

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“These cases are just as important as fresh cases. There’s still a victim involved. There’s still family members that miss their loved one," said Metcalf. 

When they try to find answers to these mysteries, it requires a lot of work, digging and frustration, but the detectives said working with the DA's Office has helped them in many ways. 

“Currently we have about 200 cold cases,” said Metcalf. “We hit a lot of roadblocks working these cases. Some of our witnesses have died, you know, sometimes evidence is no longer useful, but it keeps you going to reach a breakthrough in a case.”

Since the DA's Office and the Cold Case Unit linked up in 2017, there have been indictments in four cases – one of them a murder charge. Metcalf said it's because of the extra help and they plan for that number to go up. 


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“That’s the best opportunity for us, is to at least get a case to trial, where we can have a judge hear the evidence and determine for themselves an outcome,” said Metcalf.

“We’re always looking to do justice. No matter how long ago this may have taken place, there are family members who are still hurting from that crime,” said Moore.


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