Cold Case Investigations is Focus of Annual Wecht Conference

From Jack the Ripper (late 1880s) to the Black Dahlia (1947) to Tupac Shakur (1996), cold cases have long been a frustrating reality for police and criminal investigators. While recent advances in DNA technology and the emergence of cold case squads during the past few decades have helped crack some of these crimes, others continue to go unsolved.

Some of the most accomplished criminal investigators, forensic scientists and prosecutors will share their cold case experiences and expertise at Finding Closure: The Science, Law and Politics of Cold Case Investigations on Thursday, Oct. 30, and Friday, Oct. 31, in the Power Center Ballroom. Presented by the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, the event is open to the public.

“In the face of thousands of unsolved murder and other major criminal cases, we decided to dedicate the 14th Annual Forensic Science and Law Conference to cold case investigations,” said Institute Program Administrator Ben Wecht. “From fascinating case studies to discussions of particular investigative and prosecutorial strategies, this program will offer both practical information to criminal justice professionals and stranger-than-fiction crime stories to members of the general public.”

Among the cases being presented are:

  • The Sarah Boehm Case: Ripped from local headlines, this 20-year-old open investigation into the disappearance of a 14-year-old Beaver County girl will be presented by two of the case’s dedicated longtime investigators
  • The JonBenet Ramsey Case: Forensic linguistic expert Dr. Carole Chaski, an analyst of the alleged “ransom note” found at the scene of the child beauty queen’s death, will discuss the role that textual analysis can play in cold case investigations
  • The Case of the 32-Year-Old Underpants: Join Melissa Mourges, chief of the Cold Case Unit from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, as she takes the audience step by step through a 1974 rape case that spanned decades and involved a fugitive defendant reined in by a DNA hit
  • Drugs, Sex and Gospel Music: Longtime North Carolina cold case prosecutor Michael Parker will share his analysis of a complex murder case involving an alleged love triangle, religion, shoddy police work, a secret code and a faked death.

In addition, numerous topics and speakers include renowned criminalist Dr. Henry Lee on the management of complex and multi-jurisdictional cold cases; former FBI behavioral analyst Mark Safarik on the analysis of complex mass murder crime scenes; local DNA expert Dr. Mark Perlin on the role of DNA analysis in cracking cold cases; and Dr. Cyril Wecht on the role of the forensic pathologist in cold case investigations.

For online registration and more information, including cost and continuing education credits, visit call 412.396.1330 or email Those interested in attending are encouraged to register in advance to ensure space and to bypass registration on site at the conference.