Krystyn Dunlap-Bosse vigil (copy)

Family and friends gather during a January 24 vigil at Julia Davis Park in Boise.

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Editor's note: Justin Kendall is a sergeant with the Boise Police Department who has a background in cold case investigations. Here he wrote about his line of work and what it means to bring closure to a case.

Anytime there is a violent crime in the city of Boise involving death or serious injury, there is a good chance a detective from the Boise Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit is there to investigate.

Our unit is also responsible for cold cases in Boise and detectives work on them in between active, current investigations. Our cold cases typically include homicides or missing people where we suspect foul play.

Right now, we have three cold cases with very active leads, and we are optimistic we will be able to file charges on them in the near future. Sadly, there are other cold cases where there are no further leads to follow.

If workable leads arise in those cases, we will reopen them, assign them to a detective and follow up on that lead. This does happen occasionally in cold cases and sometimes it’s just the lead we need to make an arrest.

Thanks to new technology and developments in investigative techniques we are continuously looking for new ways to push forward on an investigation. Each year Violent Crime unit members attend homicide conferences, and other trainings, looking for updated science, techniques, and partners to help us solve these types of crimes.

Still, leads in cold cases can be very time consuming. It often involves sending evidence off to labs and then waiting up to a year for results.

The delays and long timelines are hardest on the victim’s families and finding justice for them is always our goal. Conversations with victim’s loved ones as they hold out hope for an update over the years is one of the more challenging parts of this job.

We do our best to keep families updated but there are often no developments or updates we can share. Our detectives maintain contact with great people who we unfortunately meet under the worst of circumstances.

It is difficult to see them frustrated and sad as they struggle with not knowing what happened to their loved one for so many years.

Another difficult aspect of cold cases is juggling the integrity of the case with trying to share some progress with the family. Often, we know much more about what the evidence shows than we can share. That’s because we need to be sure the person bringing us new information didn’t get their details from a news story.

It helps us validate their story when they know information no one else should know. There are many cases where detectives have done an extreme amount of work, but we can’t tell the family about it as it would compromise chances of prosecution.

Where we can, we partner with media outlets and victim’s families to highlight cases. This helps keep cases in the public eye and we can ask for people with information to come forward.

While cold cases may seem like an unending uphill battle, we have a duty to never give up and it is an incredible feeling to tell families that we have made an arrest. It is equally rewarding to see a successful conclusion in court, where you know the suspect is going to be in prison for many years and unable to harm someone again.

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