Tulsa Police Work To Solve Cold Case Killings

Wednesday, January 21st 2009, 5:29 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa's entire homicide squad and prosecutors had a four-hour closed door session on Wednesday about what can be done about the city's unsolved cases.

The News On 6 was the only media behind those closed doors.

"I think everybody's got to sit down and figure out what to do about individual cases," said Sgt. Mike Huff, Tulsa Police Major Crimes.

Every member of Tulsa's homicide squad, along with the prosecutors who handle murder cases, are determined to figure out how to close the cases from 2008 that still need an arrest.

"Vic and Jeff have the Neal Sweeney case, which U.S. attorneys are calling pretty constantly on," said Sgt. Huff.

Tulsa had 55 murders last year and 14 of them remain unsolved. Even though a 75% clearance rate is far above the national average, it's not good enough for this group.

The idea is to see which cases may need additional money for things like trips out of state or to hiring expert witnesses, which ones need forensic testing or research.

The only goal is to close more cases and arrest more killers.

"You can't get on a computer, push one button and come up with all the information like on TV. You see the level of commitment for the department as a whole and each of these individuals. I'm very optimistic we'll solve cases that yesterday, might not have been a possibility," said Sgt. Huff.

During this big push to solve murder cases, Tulsa's Crimestoppers program has agreed to increase the reward for tips to $2,000.

"$2,000 this day and time is good money. We want to spur those phone calls. 24 hours a day, Crimestoppers will call us if it's a good tip and we'll roll out of bed in the middle of the night to solve a case," said Sgt. Huff.

The Tulsa Police Department is also creating a violent crimes initiative, where they move additional officers to detective division so they can really hammer these violent crimes, like murder and robbery, which has seen a big increase lately.

They haven't said when that initiative will begin or how long it will last.