Students Work to Crack Cold Cases

Cold Case Club at Embry-Riddle Prescott

An envelope sits on the table waiting to be opened. It’s here — the first cold case to be worked by the new American Investigative Society of Cold Cases (AISOCC) University Chapter on the Prescott campus. Fifteen students have 90 days to solve the case using forensic and advanced investigation techniques learned from class and from Security and Intelligence professor, chapter advisor and AISSOC member Dr. J. Michael Bozeman. It just became real. 

Cold cases are unsolved crimes involving homicides and missing persons. The investigation is complete but there is no resolution. Families, communities and law enforcement are left without the truth and without justice. 

Cold Case Club at Embry-Riddle PrescottAISOCC’s mission is to assist in the development of these investigations to find the truth and bring justice to those responsible. Members include seasoned investigators, retired prosecutors, forensic scientists, and medico-legal experts. These elite professionals, and now Embry-Riddle Prescott students, sift through the mass of evidence and offer their opinions, suggestions, and insights to law enforcement and legal professionals. 

“This is a very unique experience. It’s not something students at other universities do. In fact, we are the first student chapter to be sanctioned by AISOCC in the country,” said Dr. Bozeman. “It is a serious undertaking. They will learn how to work a homicide case and the basics of behavioral and criminal profiling. This is both about the process and the end outcome of solving cases for law enforcement.” 

The evidence could include police reports, crime scene photos, evidence lists, suspect and witness statements, and lab reports. Breaking into groups, students first organize the material. Then, using a specific forensic or investigative technique, they will examine their evidence to fill gaps, find missed connections, and even make recommendations on re-testing evidence with advanced technology available today. 

“This takes what we learn in class to a whole new level,” said Amber Marvin, Global Security and Intelligence Studies student and President of the AISOCC University Chapter. “These are real crimes done to real people. It’s great knowing we can help and hone the skills we learn here at Embry-Riddle at the same time.” 

AISSOC will also give these students regular opportunities to network and meet professionals in law enforcement, medicine and forensics, and legal fields that could lead to internships and eventual jobs. The group plans to attend the 2016 AISOCC Annual Conference in June where past presenters include world-renowned medical examiners like Dr. Henry C. Lee, who performed the autopsies in the O.J. Simpson case. Topics have included complex homicides, current concerns of law enforcement, pattern injuries and creative uses of DNA in cold cases. 

“The discussion, dialogue, and networking is something I’m really looking forward to, especially at the conference,” said Marvin. “This is what I want to do as a job, so having access to these people at this time in my life is extremely exciting. Being able to meet and ask these experts about their careers will help all of us better choose our courses and make the most of our time here at Riddle.” 

All of the students agree that they are fortunate to have Dr. Bozeman as a professor and now as an AISOCC chapter advisor. 

“Dr. Bozeman is amazing,” said Marvin. “He brings his experience as a homicide detective and law enforcement consultant to every class and now he’s helped open up this opportunity. It’s great. If you can’t tell, we’re proud to be the first university chapter of AISSOC and are excited to make our mark on these cases. And right now, we’re ready to get started!” 

For more information on the AISOCC Embry-Riddle Chapter, contact Amber Marvin at marvina1@my.erau.edu.