Generating leads a challenge in decades old cold cases

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A case surrounding three missing men from Eastern Carolina appears to have been solved with this weekend’s discovery of a car and human remains in a Washington creek, more than 40 years after the men vanished into thin air.

It’s a break in the case that those who handle these types of cold cases say rarely happens.

Captain Gentry Pinner, captain of investigations for the Pitt County Sheriff’s office said, “It’s not as often you solve a cold case, just due to the people you can get in contact with, the evidence perishes, and I would say it is very significant that something of that age is solved. “

These new pieces of evidence were found through the use of a homemade sonar device that scanned the creek.

The breakthrough brought families and the community possible closure after more than four decades have passed.

According to Cpt. Pinner, new leads, or pieces of evidence like human and car remains are key to solving cases of this nature.

“When one generates a significant lead that we feel that would be something we would have to look into that one would get pulled to the forefront and we would pursue that lead into solving it,” Cpt. Pinner explained.

He added that another key tool is advancements in testing such as DNA.

Sergeant Lee Darnell, who serves as the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers coordinator, says the public’s involvement is also vital in finding answers to unsolved mysteries.

Crime Stoppers is a program put in place for just that…give the public a place to call with tips or information anonymously.

“People out in the community that see things or hear things or think things that the detectives may not have that can make the cases,” Sgt. Darnell shared.

Sgt. Darnell also added calls through crime stoppers can bring crimes to light that haven’t even been reported yet.