In Anne Arundel County at least half a dozen investigators with more than 300 years combined experience regularly get together to work on puzzles.
The puzzles they strive to solve aren’t for entertainment, however. They are instead a matter of life and death. They are cold cases.
For more on cold cases, watch Katrina Bush's report @ 6 p.m. Friday on ABC2 News.
Lt. T.J. Smith with the Anne Arundel County Police Department said it’s important to remember that just because a case is categorized as cold, that doesn’t mean it’s closed or forgotten.
“Every one of these cases is important to us,” Justin Mulcahy, an Anne Arundel County Police spokesman, said.
Anne Arundel police actively investigate cold cases, even after fresh information stops flowing in and all investigative leads run dry.
In November 2013, Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis put together a cold case squad.
The squad is composed of between six and 10 retired detectives who volunteer their time and experience in the effort to bring killers to justice, closure to families and close cold cases.
“It's a sense of willingness of these homicide detectives that still want to contribute to solving these homicides and they're doing it for nothing more than a pizza,” Davis said in a previous interview.
These tenured investigators put their heads together and bring fresh eyes to details that have been poured over time and time again.
“These are a unique group of people with a unique talent,” Smith said, later adding, “You can’t have enough eyes when it comes to an open homicide investigation.”
Sometimes, fresh information will come to light.
Smith used the example of last week’s announcement from Montgomery County Police in the investigation into the 1975 disappearance of the Lyon sisters. After nearly 40 years, police have a person of interest.
“They got some hot leads and that became a very active investigation,” Smith said of the Montgomery County case.
Smith said even seemingly innocuous information can make or break a case. He said Anne Arundel County Police were investigating a crime not long after Maryland started listing the state website on license plates.
A tipster told police he’d seen a car with a tag that started with a certain letter and had the website listed on it.
“That literally helped us break the case,” Smith said. “We take the BGE approach, if your power’s out, don’t take for granted that your neighbor called.”
Sometimes age and perspective can inspire a person to bring new information to police years after the fact.
“Now it's 25 years later, they have kids, they look at it and have a different view on things,” Mulcahy said. “They may be guilt-ridden about something they didn’t report that maybe they didn’t know they should have reported.”
Smith said sometimes there are victims whose lifestyle choices may have put them at higher risk to become a victim of violence. These deaths are no less meaningful, he said, but sometimes the puzzle is a little easier to put together in those instances.
On the other end of the spectrum are people like Myra Cason and Gregory Sears.
Three years ago Myra Cason, a retired school teacher in her 60s, was shot and killed in a Glen Burnie parking lot.
Two years ago, 36-year-old Gregory Sears was gunned down in his Laurel driveway while his pregnant wife awaited his return.
Neither Cason nor Sears had lifestyle factors that would make the puzzle of their deaths any easier to solve.
“The goal of this whole thing is to get a bad guy off the street and get a loved one closure,” Smith said.
Anyone with information about these or other cold murder cases can contact the Homicide Unit, 410-222-3450 or submit a tip anonymously to Metro Crime Stoppers, 1-866-7LOCKUP.