AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Amarillo Police Department’s homicide unit is working to close dozens of unsolved homicide cases with its newly established cold case unit.
APD Lt. James Clements, the homicide unit commander, said on Wednesday they have 49 open cold cases dating back to the 1950s.
“Those cases are very detailed and in-depth but there’s new DNA technology, there are new genealogy techniques, there’s new, possible new witnesses coming forward, there’s new information that we can establish off those cold cases,” said Lt. Clements.
Clements said they rehired officer Jimmy Rifenberg, an advanced crime scene investigator who had previously worked at APD for 27 years.
“We established a cold case investigator to look at those cases and only at those cases,” said Clements. “I feel that for the families to be able to get closure and to be able to get justice, we need to solely concentrate on those cases, and only those cases by themselves.”
Rifenberg is a fingerprint, blood stain, and shooting reconstruction expert.
While Rifenberg was at APD previously, he and another investigator in the now-disbanded Special Crimes Unit opened up 18 cold cases and solved 12.
Clements said they will start over again on those cold cases, going through every piece of evidence.
“Every piece of DNA, every fingerprint, everything, every photograph that we took, we’ll go over those with a fine tooth comb,” he continued.
Using updated technology, including APD’s real-time crime center, they hope to breathe new life into these stalled investigations.
“One of the main things is the improvement in stuff involving DNA,” Rifenberg said. “I’ve got a case kind of that I’m just started working on where we’re going to try to get some genealogical DNA done to see if it can help us find who the bad guy is.”
Rifenberg also said no matter how long it has been, people involved or with information about existing cold cases should reach out.
“Let us see what we can do because the people in this unit are the best of the best,” he said.
Rifenberg said he has already started on those cold cases and he is familiar with at least eight from his previous work.
“It brings us great joy to know that we can help these families out and that we can bring closure to them,” said Lt. Clements. “And we want the families to know that we’ve never stopped looking at those cases.”
If individuals have new information regarding an unsolved homicide, they are asked to call the department at 806-378-9446. For those who wish to remain anonymous, they can call the Amarillo Crimestoppers at 806-374-4400, visit the Amarillo Crimestoppers website or download the P3 Tips mobile application.