Extracting Witness Evidence in “Cold Case” Investigations: What we Know and What we Need to Learn

Price, Heather L.; Luther, Kirk; Thomas, Wayne; Gabbert, Fiona and Hope, Lorraine. 2024. Extracting Witness Evidence in “Cold Case” Investigations: What we Know and What we Need to Learn. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, ISSN 0882-0783 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Despite advances in forensic sciences, there is a significant increase in the number of cases that remain unsolved – cold cases. Cold case investigations present numerous unique challenges above and beyond those of typical (i.e., timely) investigations. In cold cases, witness memory is likely to be weakened substantially due to the historical nature of the incident (e.g., victim of historical sexual abuse), and subject to interference from different sources (e.g., conversations with others, previous interviews). Despite the numerous and challenging barriers present within cold case investigations, researchers have not systematically explored the barriers faced by cold case investigators or the best ways of obtaining detailed and accurate information from witnesses and victims of cold cases. Solving cold cases can prevent perpetrators from committing further crimes, help bring peace to the loved ones of deceased victims, and communicate to living victims that they are not forgotten. Our goal is to generate interest in a program of rigorous experimental and applied work in this neglected field. We also aim to provide preliminary resources and practical considerations for cold case investigators based on current best practices.

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Additional Information:

Funding: This work was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant to Price, Luther, and Thomas (grant number 430–2021-00272) and the Canada Research Chairs Program (Price).


Cold cases, Memory, Investigative interviewing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


22 March 2024Accepted
6 April 2024Published Online

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Date Deposited:

12 Apr 2024 10:08

Last Modified:

12 Apr 2024 16:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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