Case cracker

CELINA — With an estimate of more than 5,000 unsolved homicide cases in the state of Ohio, Attorney General Mike DeWine created a centralized database for unsolved homicides to help local law enforcement solve these crimes.

“We are announcing today a new initiative, and it’s an initiative where we will collect on the Internet all of the unsolved murders in the state,” DeWine said during a press conference Thursday morning at the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office. “It was an initiative that was started several years ago by BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification).”

DeWine explained the Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative is centered around a website, which allows the public to access a slew of unsolved homicide cases, review details and submit a tip. Law enforcement agencies must provide the information to be posted on the website, DeWine said, noting the process, which is voluntary, would take approximately 10 minutes. Thus far, 166 cases dating as far back as 1964 are documented on the website.

DeWine noted he intends to expand the database to the entire list of unsolved homicides.

He explained there are several ways the BCI&I can help local law enforcement. First, he called for all Ohio’s unsolved homicides to be entered on the website.

“It makes sense to get as much information as possible about Ohio’s unsolved homicides in one central place that is accessible by the public,” DeWine said. “We have all of the cases that BCI is involved with and we also have some that BCI is not involved with, but we have a long, long way to go.”

The initiative should bring more attention to cold cases.

“We want to call more attention to Ohio’s Unsolved Homicides,” DeWine said. “We will highlight one cold case each month and ask the media to be a partner with us in publicizing it and in asking the public for more information and any tips. Our hope to is attract enough leads or tips to break the case, to solve the crime, to let the families know who did this act to their loved one.”

When a tip is submitted through the website, it is immediately turned over to the local law enforcement agency handling the case. Through the Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative, BCI&I is extending its services to local law enforcement.

“We’re offering our BCI expert services to our local law enforcement partners to help with their cold cases,” DeWine said, noting BCI&I offers a Special Investigations Unit, a Crime Scene Unit, a Crime Laboratory, a Criminal Intelligence Unit and a Cyber Crimes Unit.

DeWine pointed to the cooperation of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and BCI&I in the case of the murders of Colleen and Robert Grube as an example of how the two entities should work together.

“This horrible murder that shocked Mercer County and shocked the whole Miami Valley, we were asked by the sheriff to come in and give assistance,” DeWine said. “It has been a great cooperative effort. This is the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department’s case. We are here to assist and only assist. It’s been a great, great partnership.”

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey also applauded the partnership.

“To me, this is how local law enforcement and state law enforcement is supposed to work together,” Grey said. “We brought together the local resources, the detectives that know the people in the community and then we brought in the state’s expertise because, obviously, they have more experience with these kinds of crimes than we do.”

Grey said he feels optimistic about bringing the case to a close.

“Although today we do not have that crime solved, I still have a very positive outlook that we’re going to find Robert’s and Colleen’s killers because of the cooperative effort,” Grey said. “Here we are nine months later and we’re still getting information.”

Recently, a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer was offered by an anonymous donor, and the award has since grown.

The website could be beneficial to law enforcement working on cases like the Grube murders, as it is searchable by keywords.

“Like the website, being able to type in duct tape and things like that (is helpful),” Grey said. “That was one of the initial things we looked at in our homicides was there anything else similar in any place. Well, if there was something else similar on the other side of the state, we’re probably not going to know about it. If everyone puts their information into this website, we’ll at least be able to put that up and make a phone call.”