Photo by Mark Hallum
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announces the borough has its first-ever cold case unit.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced the creation of the borough’s first-ever Cold Case Unit, dedicated to investigating and solving the oldest and most challenging unsolved homicide cases.

The families of these victims suffered a tragic loss which has been compounded by the additional burden of years of unanswered questions and unattainable justice. The unit will work closely with the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad in investigating unsolved homicide cases in Queens County.

“The loss of a loved one to a brutal and senseless act of violence brings unimaginable pain to families and loved ones of the victim,” Katz said. “Not knowing who committed the crime and having justice elude them for years and in some instances decades is an additional heartache. This new unit will aggressively re-investigate these unsolved murders. The goal is to find the killers and give the families of the victims the long-awaited justice they deserve.”

While the number of homicides in Queens has declined dramatically in recent years, there are still a high number of unsolved murders due to previous decades of violence. The homicide rate began in the triple digits in 1970 and remained in triple digits for nearly 30 years. The number of homicides peaked at 341 in 1992. Today, there are still approximately 2,200 unsolved homicides in Queens.

“While time passes, our NYPD detectives are relentless and never stop working to bring justice for past crime victims and those they leave behind,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “We’re proud to join together with our partners in the Queens district attorney’s office in ensuring that cold cases are never forgotten.”

The new Cold Case Unit will take advantage of advancements in forensic technology and the creation of nationwide databases that could potentially identify suspects in these unsolved homicides. Some evidence that was once thought unsuitable for testing or once yielded inconclusive results may now be considered suitable and may in fact provide probative evidence in an investigation, including the identification of a suspect that was once unknown.

Additionally, there has been an increase of profiles contained in national databases and along with familial DNA testing, these investigative tools could produce not only new leads, but could also solve a case once considered unsolvable.

The Cold Case Unit has implemented a database to track unsolved homicide cases and to digitize cold case files for the preservation of documents and evidence over time. The unit is already investigating 35 unsolved murders within just two months of its inception in March.

“Collaboration with the community is going to be essential for the success of the unit,” Katz said adding that the public plays an important role in generating new leads in unsolved cases.

The DA’s office will be posting requests for information through social media sites as one means to actively engage the public in its investigation.

Veteran prosecutor Karen L. Ross was appointed chief of the Cold Case Unit having successfully prosecuted many of Queens most notable murders over the last 15 years. In 2019, Ross received the prestigious National Crime Victims’ Rights Award for her dedication, compassion and kindness working with crime victims.

Most notably, in 2018, Ross obtained a conviction in the 2008 slaying of 14-year-old Sabrina Matthews, who was found with her throat slashed lying in a pool of blood in her home. The gruesome case went unresolved for nearly a decade until DNA analysis helped solve the case.

In 2014, Ross tried and convicted Andrew Caballero for the 1995 murder of 21-year-old Jason Kollman. Caballero stabbed Kollman 15 times in the neck and upper body before throwing the victim off the roof of an apartment building. The case remained unsolved for years until a new witness came forward leading to Cabellero’s arrest.

“The justice that was ultimately served in these cases proves that while murder investigations may grow cold, they are never forgotten and neither is the justice that is owed to the families and their loved ones,” Katz said.


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