The unsolved murders attract the attention of public opinion.
Can we consider the case of Milena Sutter as a “Cold Case”?
The fact that not the whole truth has been told allows us to consider it still a cold track case.
One wonders why the “cold houses” – the “cold run” cases – always occupy the front pages of newspapers.
The historical sexual crimes that dominate the media are particularly interesting for public opinion.
The successful identification of killers of serious unsolved long-term crimes always provides investigators with positive publicity.
The interest of the public is, on the other hand, always very high on these issues.
For an editorial choice – linked to a media-type interpretation of the Sutter-Bozano case – the story of the so-called “blond spider spider” is treated in this blog as a Cold Case.
From a judicial point of view, we cannot call it a Cold Case.
The story is in fact resolved with the final sentence of Lorenzo Bozano, as the offender.
“The judicial point of view is sacrosanct and must be respected,” notes Maurizio Corte, head of the blog on Biondino della Spider Rossa. “Lorenzo Bozano is the author of the crime in question and this is not discussed in the judiciary.”
“My interpretation of the Sutter-Bozano case is from Cold Case, however, on a media level,” notes Corte. “There are many unclear dark points in the story; there are tracks that are not thoroughly investigated or even overlooked”.
“We have important witnesses never heard from the trial”, Corte says. “Mine is therefore the point of view of a media scholar, let me be clear, not the judicial and technical point of view ”.
The definition of “Cold Case”
In the Anglo-Saxon world there is no official definition of “Cold Case” or a precise moment in which an investigation can be called “cold”.
It is generally accepted that a case cools down when all investigative tracks have been explored and “beaten”.
And it is believed that nothing new can be acquired. At least in that moment.
For public opinion, Cold Cases are always open, suspended cases.
It is good to specify that “unresolved case” means that case in which there is no suspicion.
Or when the suspect is cleared from preliminary investigations; or acquitted at the end of a trial and a new suspect has yet to emerge.
There are cases where the suspect is not identified or there is insufficient evidence to proceed judicially.
The unsolved cases and investigations on the Cold Case
In fact, in Italy, unsolved murders or cases of missing persons are filed according to the law after the deadline.
The public prosecutor may order the filing, following preliminary investigations, in one of the following cases:
- when the crime report is unfounded,
- the perpetrator of the crime has remained unknown,
- a condition of prosecution is missing,
- the crime is extinguished or the fact is not foreseen by law as a crime,
- the fact is particularly tenuous
If the perpetrator of the crime has remained unknown even after the investigation has been carried out, the public prosecutor, within six months from the entry in the register of the crime reports, of the appropriate news, submits to the judge for investigation preliminary request for filing or authorization to continue investigations.
The filing terms are well defined: during the preliminary investigations for murder, the deadline is one year from when the name of the suspect is entered in the register of suspects.
The public prosecutor can request an extension only for just cause, for a maximum of 6 months at a time.
The deadline for investigations is two years.
The same procedure applies when the author is unknown.
In cases of missing person, this is sought for a “significant” period.
In this regard, there is an articulated regulation that regulates these specific situations.
We can therefore say that in Italy it makes no sense to talk about Cold Case forever. There are specific legal terms to be respected.
In the last twenty years in the Anglo-Saxon world, however, police departments have also developed, specializing in the operational methodology for the reopening of the Cold Cases.
The term “Cold Case Review” has been used since the early 1990s.
In the United States, the Cold Case review has often relied on new testimonials and informants.
Those, in essence, who bring new elements to the reading of a certain story.
In the United Kingdom, attention has focused more often on scientific and technological opportunities and DNA testing.
The United States and the United Kingdom now follow a method of integration between new testimonials and new technologies.
Cold Case: the cold-run cases that people like
Cold Case reviews are a particular type of long-term investigation over time.
They are operating methods used in Anglo-Saxon police.
The two crimes most likely to be the focus of a review are murder and rape by unknown persons.
This is due to a number of reasons, including the seriousness of crime and the progress of science; and therefore the greatest opportunities available to examine them.
In some cases, advances in forensic science have provided the greatest opportunities to deal with unsolved cases.
DNA samples from historical cases were compared with samples stored in national DNA databases. so as to be able to identify the offender.
Then there is the case of the reopening of a trial because the condemned proclaims himself innocent.
The greatest difficulty in our country is of a regulatory nature, because in Italy the finds are destroyed after the final judgment.
Only in unresolved cases those finds must be kept.
If, on the other hand, there are special needs for further defense needs, the defendants must ask the court to keep the finds.
The court, for its part, can reject the request and decide to destroy them anyway.
In the “Case of Erba”, for example, the finds were destroyed after the technical examination carried out before the sentence.
Experience leads us to say that it would perhaps be appropriate to preserve – even in the case of a definitive procedure – the same findings.
For what reasons? First of all because the scientific developments could allow to analyze or re-analyze elements that, at the time of the judicial procedure, it is technically impossible to analyze and / or understand in their complexity.
It should also be borne in mind that – however remote as an eventuality – procedural revision is always, abstractly, possible.
Court cases already concluded and final can be reopened when new information comes to light.
Or when witnesses provide new information related to the crime.
Or in the event that the offender – other than the sentenced person – confesses the crime.
Sworn cases can be reopened at any time if:
- The planned penalty is that of life imprisonment;
- A person in charge has been identified, he has been sentenced to life in prison and elements prove his innocence
Cold Case: success in the media and importance for crime victims
The success of the Cold Cases has allowed the police of the Anglo-Saxon world to find a large consensus among the public.
This also happened thanks to how investigators used innovative technologies to solve previously unsolvable crimes.
Reviews on “cold-run cases” are often advertised as innovations in science. And they receive an aura of struggle for justice in their reports.
This public interest is often fueled by fantasy television programs such as “CSI”. And it helps to strengthen the police image.
More generally, the successes in the Cold Houses, however achieved, can inspire the public’s confidence in demonstrating the investigators’ commitment to obtain justice.
Nobody wants to think that dangerous criminals are not punished.
Especially for the victims and the families of the victims, there is a moral drive to discover these unsolved crimes.
Getting justice is the result of a request for justice for the victims and their families, no matter how long after the event.
The Cold Case, it should be stressed, however, are not just “TV stuff”.
This is demonstrated by the fact that within a year in Milan, three murder cases frozen by time were given a turn.
These are three different cases, three different occasions for the reopening of court proceedings and three different investigative strategies:
- the murder of Giuseppe De Rosa in 1976 in Buccinasco;
- the murder of the Turin prosecutor Bruno Caccia, which occurred 32 years ago in Turin, whose principals were known but not the perpetrators;
- recently the murder of Lidia Macchi, a student killed in Milan thirty years ago
For victims, a Cold Case solution can help them rebuild their lives knowing that the culprit has been caught.
As for public opinion, the solution of a Cold Case is a reinforcement of the idea that justice can be done.
As for the investigators and the police forces, the solution of a Cold Case is the demonstration that professionalism and commitment pay off.