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What goes into breaking a cold-case murder | News

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What goes into breaking a cold-case murder
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El Dorado County has a lot of dirt roads and rolling hills.

It's 1,800 square miles. You can hide a lot of bodies in this remote terrain, and El Dorado County has a higher-than-average number of cold case murders.

Sixty to be exact.

In a remote part of the county on Friday, El Dorado County sheriff's deputies and the county district attorney's office finished digging for evidence -- literally. They were at a location they've been to before.

In a dirt-covered patch about 20 yards up a gravel road, investigators unearthed evidence to help resolve a cold case homicide from about 10 years ago.

"We're pretty optimistic that it will ... hopeful and optimistic, I think," district attorney Vern Pierson said.

El Dorado County has made progress solving long-unsolved homicides, thanks to Proposition 69 and its funding mechanism for collecting DNA from convicted felons. El Dorado County's cold-case taskforce now has a staff of nine working full-time.

Of the 60 cold cases, 17 are now considered active, thanks to DNA evidence that may identify suspects.

"What we're able to analyze and how fast we're able to analyze it now is the key to help solve crimes and getting us pointed in the right direction of potential suspects and suspects which leads to criminal prosecution," district attorney investigator Dave Stevenson said.

The district attorney's office would not confirm who or what was buried at Friday's for the past 10 years or how they obtained information about the location. Investigators were certain their probe would finally yield evidence Friday, according to Pierson.

"Really, for this one, a significant amount of time and effort by a team of very experienced investigators and detectives," he said.

The district attorney's office is still working on two more cold case murder mysteries that remain unsolved in El Dorado County: In June 1986, Haley Wing was shot and killed near his home in Rescue. In August 1997, Frances Hatadis disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Investigators suspect foul play.


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