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Cold case review at Murdoch

Crime board linking evidence in a criminal investigation

Murdoch University’s brightest and most talented Forensic Science and Criminology students to help progress unsolved homicide and missing persons cases.

A think tank of Murdoch University’s brightest and most talented Forensic Science and Criminology students have been brought together to investigate, research and analyse data that may provide opportunities to progress unsolved homicide and missing persons cases. 

Led by Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science, Brendan Chapman and Senior Lecturer in Criminology, David Keatley, the Cold Case Review at Murdoch (CCR@Murdoch) initiative will see the students review large volumes of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) relating to specific cases and provide recommendations to law enforcement or families on new avenues for enquiry.

With a combined 17 years’ experience in criminal investigations, Mr Chapman and Dr Keatley specialise in behavioural and statement analysis, suspect prioritisation, victimology and forensic science.

The initiative, announced during Missing Persons Week, was developed as a result of the number of unsolved investigations and missing persons cases stagnating due to a lack of resources available to conduct detailed reviews of case information.

CCR@Murdoch will work with Dr Claire Ferguson (Queensland University of Technology), an expert in homicide detection avoidance, and Dr Sasha Reid (University of Calgary) whose expertise in serial killers has seen her appear on the Netflix documentary, Unabomber: In his own words.

CCR@Murdoch has formed a partnership with LOCATE International to establish a national Australian database of missing and murdered people as a resource for law enforcement to better understand how to resolve these cases.

LOCATE are a UK group that bring former detectives together with the public to apply their talents and help investigate and review unsolved cases.

Mr Chapman and Dr Keatley aim to offer a similar public service to WA with this collaboration providing access to LOCATE’s experienced major crime review officers, investigators, data analysis and open source intelligence analysts.

Members of the public are encouraged to contact David or Brendan if they would like the team to consider a case of a missing and/or murdered person.  All details are managed in the strictest of confidence.

Mr Brendan Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science said:

David and I have very different backgrounds working on cold cases. It gives us some very complementary views which keeps us both challenged. Ultimately it makes for a very robust system.

“Our students are our greatest asset, largely because of all of the great ideas they can bring to solving a problem. The success of our Forensic Science and Criminology courses also means we have a constant supply of highly intelligent, capable individuals.

They're getting real case exposure and to work with international experts. It’s a win, win”

Dr David Keatley, Senior Lecturer in Criminology said

Brendan brings the scientific rigour and expertise in forensics, which complements my behavioural analysis and profiling. Combined, we provide a complete review and often find new areas of investigation and suspect prioritisation"

“This is really a unique capability within Australia. There are similar groups in the USA and UK, like LOCATE, that offer this type of expertise to the public but until now, Australia has been without.

“The various Police forces around the country do a fantastic job under the pressures that they’re put under. We don’t intend on undermining that, hopefully we can help relieve the pressure a little and complement the work they do.”

Background:

  • All cases reviewed by CCR are handled confidentially, and under strict non-disclosure agreements.
  • Cases will initially be reviewed by Mr Chapman and Dr Keatley, and with the consent of parties involved, they will be turned over to the CCR group, who will be able to expedite reviews through the large student cohorts in Murdoch’s Criminology and Forensic Science bachelor degree programmes.
  • The students will also have access to the diverse expertise housed within the Murdoch academic community.
Posted on:

7 Aug 2020

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