“If you don’t shoot, you don’t score…”
In Quebec’s neighbouring province of Ontario, it appears as if their provincial police force has a cold case investigative team that is a little more sensitive to the needs of the victims’ families and a lot more inclined to dig a little deeper and go a little further in pursuit of justice.
Hats off to Detective Constables Andre Bayard and Dan Linkenheld of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Historical Investigations Unit.
They “get it”.
EXCERPTS FROM THE STORY:
A pain that never goes away;
OPP cold case squad making inroads in
solving local mysteries
Owen Sound (Ontario) Sun-Times
…Some mysteries remain unsolved for decades.
Yet people like Andre Bayard and Dan Linkenheld, detective-constables with the
Ontario Provincial Police’s Historical Investigations Unit, continue to pore over the puzzle pieces.
“If you don’t shoot, you don’t score,” Bayard says describing the work cold case officers do as they attempt to close cases that have long mystified other police.
“In these types of investigations, you’ve got to keep everything open. I mean, we talk to everybody. Some of these conversations are pretty strange, let’s put it that
way. We deal with some people that think they have these “gifts,” but we talk to them. Usually they have nothing for us, or they don’t tell us anything we don’t already know, but we continue to talk to them.”
Bayard adds: “If it was my family, my kid missing, I would want the police to make every effort, to talk to everybody, no matter how big or how small.”
That’s where you, the reader, comes in. You may know these stories already, or you may be learning about them for the first time. You may have information about one of these cases, and you may have already spoken with police about what you know.
But maybe you didn’t tell them everything. Maybe you left something out because you believed it to be insignificant. Perhaps you haven’t spoken with police at all, because you assumed they already know what you know.
Linkenheld says this is the kind of information that can sometimes provide investigators with that little link they need. “Those individuals don’t see the overall picture, the whole puzzle,” he says.
“They have a piece of it, and they don’t think their piece is significant. To us, it might mean knitting one piece of info with another, and you have a solid link made with that individual that we didn’t have before.”
“The police are just an extension of the community, and we’re as good as the help we get.”
Cold case officers must also display a great deal of sensitivity, because they are dealing with families whose wounds have never healed, whose pain has never gone away.
Linkenheld says the death of a loved one changes the whole dynamic of a family, affecting relationships within that family and sometimes completely destabilizing them. That’s true whether the death is sudden or expected.
But at least the majority of deaths can be explained to some degree, and a person’s family and friends can mourn, grieve and have closure. That’s not so in the cases we have chosen to examine this week.
“Here, you’ve got no answers,” Linkenheld says.
“You’ve got either a missing person or you’ve got a deceased person, and you don’t have answers as to why. I think that wears quite heavily on people.”
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