BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 400 cases that have gone cold are locked up in a room. The Baton Rouge Police Department launched the Cold Case Division in March 2012 thanks to a federal grant paying for all the detectives' overtime.
That grant, however, expired six months ago so the department re-applied asking for $200,000 for the next two years. On Monday though, Cold Case Detective John Dauthier found out that grant was denied.
"It was not approved, and so at this point, we have no additional funds for overtime efforts to continue searching these cases," said Dauthier.
Anywhere between five and seven detectives including Dauthier would review old physical evidence and pursue new leads or attempt to generate new leads. Now, because the grant to pay for all those detectives was denied, it's up to Dauthier to do all that work on his own.
Since the Cold Case Division started, Dauthier said they have successfully cleared six cases. Five of those are thanks to advanced technology such as DNA testing that simply was not available decades ago.
"If we're looking at a case that was originally investigated 20 years ago, the physical evidence collected in that case probably wasn't even considered for DNA so we go back and we review that evidence and see its viability for testing via today's procedures," said Dauthier.
One high-profile cold case that Dauthier and team closed was the 1984 murder of Gary Kergan. Nearly three decades after the murder, DNA found in Kergan's car led detectives to the accused killers. Kergan's brother Ted said his family was finally able to begin the process of closure all thanks to the Cold Case Division.
"My brother is reaching beyond the grave and making them accountable for what they did to him," said Kergan. "He was my brother by chance. He was my friend by choice and I really miss him."
Despite a denied grant, Dauthier said he alone will continue and double his efforts to keep giving suffering families some closure.
BRPD was not given a reason why their grant was denied, but they do plan to continue re-applying. In the meantime, if there is a cold case that requires additional detectives to close, BRPD will find the funds to pay the overtime.