TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - New forensic science can help solve cold cases that are decades old, but a local expert says cold case investigations aren't keeping up with scientific breakthroughs.
Dr. Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF, says that from 1961 through 1996, around 2,000 murdered and unidentified women's' bodies were dumped in Central Florida and the Bay Area.
Decades later, they remain unidentified. She says their remains are kept by local medical examiners.
"The fact that all these cases remain open means there are killers out there that have never been convicted, that have never been caught," said Kimmerle. "It's a public safety issue and I think it's a bigger problem than most people realize."
Kimmerle and her team recently helped identify Tina Marie Farmer, whose body was dumped in 1985.
But even with breakthroughs in DNA and forensic science, Kimmerle says more cases are going cold than are getting solved.
"There's over 500 cold cases in the Tampa Bay area. That means 500 people that committed murder that have never been caught," Kimmerle said.
She says federal funding that has paid for local cold case investigations has been cut.
Recently, serial killer Samuel Little claimed he killed up to 90 people, several in our area. Kimmerle says families of missing women should come forward with DNA that could finally identify some of the many women whose bodies were dumped.
"Our number-one goal is to find out who these women are and return them to their families," she added.
Kimmerle says new science can identify women who were murdered and left for dead, but only if policymakers care enough to keep cold cases on the front burner.