The team at the website Defrosting Cold Cases (DCC) take a truly collaborative approach to looking at (and trying to solve) unsolved murders.Created in 2009 by the enigmatic “Vidocq”, also known as Vidster ( a lawyer with a long history in the fields of criminology and human rights defence) the DCC blog came about because “there were too many cold cases that do not get enough media attention”.
Vidster said his work with police over the years led him to see how “incredibly thin” some of the cold case files were from the 1950s and 1960s.
“The information gathering was often not systematically documented; documents were referred to but not included,” Vidster said.
“When you start to read those stories and cases, you feel the urge to re-organize them and then you are hooked!”
Vidster kindly took the time out from cold case files to answer some questions for True Crime Reader:
True Crime Reader: What has been your greatest result so far in terms of helping/facilitating the solving of a cold case?
Vidster: I have contributed to many cases that are all in various stages of being re-investigated, presented to the district attorneys or, are on trial. Everything I find out is given to the authorities in charge. Whether they use it or not, I cannot always tell. Some give me feedback, some don’t. In a few cases, the district attorneys involved have supported re-opening cases and in other cases, pieces of evidence have been submitted to the labs. They will be tested with modern technology to see whether it can confirm that a certain person made contact with those items. Only when I get the green light, can I post about it.
TCR: What’s the cold case that “gets to you” the most? That is like an obsession for you to solve?
Vidster: They all have a special place but if I must pick one – the murder of Bernice Martin. I sincerely believe that we have the wrong man incarcerated for that crime. Someone who has not been caught yet or, who is incarcerated elsewhere for a different crime. Police is not following up on leads indicated in the posts. The fact that the man they have incarcerated is a mentally handicapped man makes this even worse since he has no concept of what is really happening to him. See here.
TCR: You have some great contributors to the site (including NYPD Det-Sgt and Commanding Officer of the Bronx Cold Case Homicide Squad Joe Giacalone and British forensic scientist Sue Carney) How have you linked in with them?
Vidster: I always scan people’s bios for interesting details and watch the manner of speech they use on the Internet. You know that some will say anything in any form just because they can hide online behind a chosen identity. All these people reached out to me and I started reading about their work, how they use Twitter (they all have Twitter accounts except for Hal Brown), and how they respond to people. The way they interact with others sparked my interest for them personally and that’s how we got together. It is an interesting bunch and I am very grateful for their cooperation.
TCR: What do you encourage readers of your blog to do? Are there any particular cases that you are working on at the moment that’s you’d like me to mention?
Vidster: Please read the cases especially those from areas where you lived. You just might have a memory that in itself does not mean much but put together with the other information, might make the picture clearer.
I also encourage readers to comment and brainstorm with me on cases. Comment below the post or, ping me on Twitter. And, if you have a Twitter account, join us on Fridays from noon-1pm EST for #cclivechat. Every cold case live chat, we are joined by a variety of people from different backgrounds and professions. Brainstorming together opens up the way to new turns the case could take. Moreover, it is an ideal way to see whether you make sense. Let others listen to your solutions or ideas and see what they think. It is a very valuable tool. I post recaps of all chats on DCC so you can read up later on if you miss it. The verbatim thread is always included.
Vidster said he could use some help in the following cases: Tracy Allen, Richard Burchfield, Karen Caughlin, Laura Henderson-Ibach, Brenda Martinez, Stephen Miera, David Neily, Sharron Prior, Linda Sohus, Kimberly Thompson and Patty Vaughan. (Check on DCC under the cases tab http://www.defrostingcoldcases.com/cases).
Details: defrostingcoldcases.com Follow Vidster on Twitter @Vidocq_CC
Note: Vidocq (1775 t0 1857) was a French criminal who reformed and is considered the father of modern criminology and the first private detective. Vidster of DCC, wishes to remain anonymous with his work on the blog and uses Vidocq as his identity inspiration!