Tuolumne County Sheriff Launches Cold Case Unit
Undersheriff Neil Evans, Steve Clark, Sheriff Bill Pooley, Joseph Romeo and Lt. Craig Davis
Sonora, CA – Under a new initiative, unsolved crimes in Tuolumne County are getting special handling from a specially dedicated cold case unit.
The reason, as Sheriff Bill Pooley explains it, “We have a number of high-profile missing person…old homicide cases dating all the way back to the 1980’s that we really need to delve into, and there’s new technologies, DNA and things like that that have come out we are going to try to apply…to some of these cases and hopefully get some resolution.”
According to Lt. Craig Davis, who oversees investigations, two former local investigators who together share decades of experience agreed to come out of retirement for the sole purpose of helping bring closure to family members and the community by working to further these investigations.
While a cold case unit is not a new idea or concept, Davis says it is a much need one to locally implement. “[When] you get the opportunity to go through old cases and identify things that need to be done to further those investigations…and go to Missing Person events and listen to family members speak, it compels you to do as much as you can to get answers for those families. So that is what we are working towards.”
He laments that ongoing manpower, budgetary issues and other variables that normally one would hope would not affect investigations are additionally impacted by a continuous stream of incoming crime cases. A case can remain open but can go cold due to a lack of investigative leads being brought to the forefront. Looking back on some of the cases, Davis acknowledges, “There is still a lot of work that can be done on these if you had the people in place to do it.”
Romeo, Clark Solely Dedicated To Cold Case Investigations
He lauds the two men who are now onboard and delving into some of the cases. “Honestly, those guys were hand-selected based on their investigative ability and their work ethic.”
Continuing, he shares, “Joe Romeo used to be one of my sergeants and I have great respect for him, his thoroughness, his ability, his approach to people, and Steve Clark, who worked for over 31 years, but was an investigator for over 21 of those years — the number of resources and thought he puts into an investigation is a resource you hate to see go to waste!”
While Davis declines to share which cold cases might currently get a fresh look out of respect for the families, he acknowledges that the pair are on the ground and running. “We are going to sit down as a group and go through many of the cases…and try to come up with a strategic way to prioritize them due to evidence examination, what kind of leads there are or have been that we can follow up on, so the solvability factor in some of them is going to be an issue,” he confides.
The one thing Davis says he has learned is, “When you listen to these family members speak, there’s no denying the fact that not having those answers are the most painful things for them. So anything that we can do to further a case to bring that family an answer — it’s a win in my book.”
He adds that anyone with information regarding any case is encouraged to call the Investigations Division at 209 694-2900.