CELINA — With an estimate of more than 5,000 unsolved homicides in the state of Ohio, Attorney General Mike DeWine is working to help local law enforcement solve more cases by creating a centralized database for unsolved homicides.
“We are announcing today a new initiative, and it’s an initiative where we will collect on the Internet all of the unsolved murders in the state,” DeWine said during a press conference Thursday morning at the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office. “It was an initiative that was started several years ago by BCI.”
The Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative is centered around a website, OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/OhioUnsolvedHomicides, which allows the public to access a slew of unsolved homicide cases, review details and submit a tip. Law enforcement agencies must provide the information to be posted on the website, DeWine said, noting the process, which is voluntary, would take approximately 10 minutes. Thus far, 166 cases dating as far back as 1964 are documented on the website.
“We want to dramatically expand that database,” DeWine said.
DeWine noted several ways the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) can help local law enforcement. First, he called for all Ohio’s unsolved homicides to be entered on the website.
“It makes sense to get as much information as possible about Ohio’s unsolved homicides in one central place that is accessible by the public,” he said. “We have all of the cases that BCI is involved with and we also have some that BCI is not involved with, but we have a long, long way to go.”
The initiative, he said, will also bring more attention to cold cases.
“We want to call more attention to Ohio’s Unsolved Homicides,” DeWine said. “We will highlight one cold case each month and ask the media to be a partner with us in publicizing it and in asking the public for more information and any tips. Our hope is to attract enough leads or tips to break the case, to solve the crime, to let the families know who did this act to their loved one.”
When a tip is submitted through the website, it is immediately turned over to the local law enforcement agency handling the case. Through the Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative, BCI is extending its services to local law enforcement.
“We’re offering our BCI expert services to our local law enforcement partners to help with their cold cases,” DeWine said, noting BCI offers a Special Investigations Unit, a Crime Scene Unit, a Crime Laboratory, a Criminal Intelligence Unit and a Cyber Crimes Unit.
DeWine pointed to the cooperation of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and BCI in the case of the murders of Robert and Colleen Grube as an example of how the two entities should work together.
“This horrible murder that shocked Mercer County and shocked the whole Miami Valley, we were asked by the sheriff to come in and give assistance,” he said. “It has been a great cooperative effort. This is the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department’s case. We are here to assist and only assist. It’s been a great, great partnership.”
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey also applauded the partnership.
“To me, this is how local law enforcement and state law enforcement are supposed to work together,” Grey said. “We brought together the local resources, the detectives that know the people in the community and then we brought in the state’s expertise because, obviously, they have more experience with these kinds of crimes than we do.”
Grey said he feels optimistic about bringing the case to a close.
“Although today we do not have that crime solved, I still have a very positive outlook that we’re going to find Robert and Colleen’s killers because of the cooperative effort,” he said. “Here we are nine months later and we’re still getting information.”
Recently, a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer was offered by an anonymous donor, and the award has grown.
“Two weeks ago, we announced that we had an anonymous donor that put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction,” he said. “Since that time, that award has grown to $20,000. We want people to know there is reward money out there to help us solve this case.”
The website could be beneficial to law enforcement working on cases like the Grube murders, as it is searchable by keywords.
“Like the website, being able to type in duct tape and things like that (is helpful),” Grey said. “That was one of the initial things we looked at in our homicides was there anything else similar in any place. Well, if there was something else similar on the other side of the state, we’re probably not going to know about it. If everyone puts their information into this website, we’ll at least be able to put that up and make a phone call.”
If law enforcement agencies submit their cases, DeWine said, unsolved cases may be solved.
“If we get a significant number of these cases in, we’re going to solve cases,” he said. “We’ll get tips, we’ll get things that matter.”
For more information or to view the list of Ohio’s unsolved homicides, visit OhioAttorneyGeneral.com/OhioUnsolvedHomicides.