Police continue to investigate leads in 2013's unsolved murders - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Police continue to investigate leads in 2013's unsolved murders

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Investigators are still looking to make an arrest in the Thursday night shooting of David Scott. The case is one of many with questions left to be answered.

There have been 16 homicides in Columbus this year, but only 11 of them are considered cleared. Police say the remaining five are still actively being investigated, while the killers remain on the loose.

The five homicides of 2013 that have not been considered solved are on the constantly growing list of active investigations.

More than 100 people attended a vigil for Scott Sunday night, and they're calling for action from authorities, but Major Stan Swiney says sometimes finding a killer takes time.

"You look at everyone who has the possibility of being involved," says Swiney. "You've got motive, method and opportunity, and anyone who fits those categories is going to be looked at and investigated."

The 2011 murder of Steve Toms took more than a year to solve, but investigators were actively following leads. They finally apprehended Michael Jerome Johnson in July.

Swiney says, "Sometimes it's a dead end. Sometimes you lose a suspect and develop another as you do your investigation. It's just a matter of, follow your lead until its logical conclusion then find another lead."

Major Gene Hillhouse adds, "Bottom line is, we keep somebody on all homicides as long as it takes. They're never forgotten, they're never closed down."

If the leads run out, however, it becomes a cold case. The cold case unit of the Columbus Police Department consists of three investigators under Major Hillhouse.

They have about 75 cases dating back as far as 1973. Each file is reviewed periodically for new information, and sometimes it pays off.

DNA evidence pinned Kareem Lane as former school superintendent Jim Burns's killer 18 years after the 1992 murder.

"It was changes in technology and those kinds of things that helped us do that," says Swiney, "and murders is one of those cases that are never closed."

Hillhouse says, "There's experts available that wasn't available 20 years ago that have different backgrounds, different training, that's able to give expert opinions on the meanings of different things."

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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