"That's a term that was created by the media and the general public," said Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler, a public information officer assigned to the Division II office in Culpeper. "It's not a term that we use."
Instead, Tyler explained that in addition to their daily case load, special agents from the department's Bureau of Criminal Investigations handle older cases that have already been investigated but remain unsolved. They are called "active" or "ongoing" investigations, he said.
In order to solve such cases, Tyler said that investigators use a collaborative approach.
"The investigators painstakingly review these cases on a regular basis. When need be, they'll get another investigator involved, just so there's a second pair of eyes," Tyler said.
Together, agents will review evidence, re-interview witnesses and search for new evidence. Any forensic evidence they find is sent to state laboratories in Richmond or Northern Virginia, he said. Sometimes it is even sent to the FBI lab at Quantico.
"We will utilize their expertise in certain situations," Tyler said.
Sometimes, closing an old case is simply a matter of catching a "lucky break," Tyler added.
"Getting that one piece of information can make a huge difference," Tyler said. "Sometimes it is simply a question of jogging someone's memory. Getting that one piece of information can be the difference."
Consequently, Tyler said that police will sometimes release information about an ongoing investigation to the media in hopes that a citizen will be able to provide critical information.
Recently, the state police did just that. Specifically, special agents are asking for anyone with knowledge of an abduction that occurred in Strasburg in 1998 to contact them.
According to a press release issued last week, Allyson Kathleen Dalton (then 10 weeks old) disappeared July 27, 1998. Her mother, Sylena Dalton was reportedly found stabbed to death in her Strasburg home that day. The mother and daughter were last seen alive that morning.
"Allyson's father, Daniel E. Pompell, told police he went to the apartment on the morning of the murder, knocked on the door, received no answer and left the area," the release states. "State Police as a matter of policy will not name suspects, however, Mr. Pompell has not been exonerated."
Investigators are "confident that any new information that can be provided in the case may lead to an arrest," according to the statement.
Anyone with information may call Special Agent M.L. Jones at (540) 829-7400; or 1-888-300-0156. Callers may remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, investigators from the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office are also reviewing their share of old cases.
Maj. Paul Mercer said the cases are assigned to specific investigators, who review them and keep their supervisors apprised of any progress that's being made.
When need be, Mercer said investigators tackling "cold cases" can utilize outside resources, including federal law enforcement agencies to try to close "cold" cases.
Some of the cases Fauquier investigators are now working are: the 2003 murder of Bryan Mace, the 1988 murder of Tammy Thorpe, and the 1982 murder of William Anthony Kagdis.
The Mace murder. According to police, Bryan Michael Mace, 20, was found shot to death in his home on April 9, 2003. The home was also set on fire, police said.
Authorities have said that evidence suggests Mace interrupted a burglary and was subsequently killed.
A $10,00 reward is being offered. Mace's family is offering an additional reward.
The Thorpe murder. Police say Tammy Thorpe was found shot to death on Oct. 23, 1988, shortly after 7 a.m. Her body was found about one-quarter mile outside of the Warrenton Town limits on the northbound side of U.S. 17. The state medical examiner determined that she died of multiple gun shot wounds.
County investigators have followed up on hundreds of leads over the past 14 years. A $30,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the indictment and arrest of the person(s) responsible for Thorpe's death.
The Kagdis case. William Anthony Kagdis was found dead in a rented room at the Johnson Motel on Aug. 1, 1982, police said. The room showed signs of a struggle having taken place and an autopsy determined that Kagdis, an aeronautical engineer with NASA, had died from "numerous blunt force injuries he received to his head."
He was reportedly traveling from Baltimore, Md., to Tennessee on business. His vehicle, which may have been taken by the assailant, has not been recovered, according to police.
Anyone with information about any of these cases is encouraged to call (540) 347-3300 or (540) 347-6870.
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