Police departments from five different counties throughout Pennsylvania were present at the Cold Case Conference held at Muhlenberg College this week.
The conference is running from June 18 - 22 on the college campus, where up to 75 law enforcement investigators will hear lectures from The Vidocq Society.
"I think it will be a useful learning experience for all criminal investigators in this room," said Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin, referring to the lectures.
The Vidocq Society, which was founded in 1991, is comprised of fraternal organization professionals.
The Vidocq Society is a group of seasoned detectives who assist with cold case investigations.
The society assists law enforcement in cold case homicide investigations, and also provides investigative training to law enforcement. Bringing in an outside group with a new set of eyes to a case can help solve the investigation. The group works pro bono, and does not ask for any credit for their work.
"There's so many cold cases and every department probably has one," stated Robert Gerken, Director of Campus Safety and Security for Muhlenberg College. Gerken is a former detective of the Philadelphia Police Department and a former State Trooper. "We're looking at 6,000 cold cases a year, there's no reason to think that is going to change in any way."
From 1985 to 2008, in the United States there were 185,000 cases that went cold. It is undetermined how many cases the Vidocq Society has helped solve because they do not always know the outcome.
Every investigator was encouraged to at least look at one cold case they have in their files. The Vidocq Society strongly encouraged the local police departments to use them to look at their past files or use them for help in any way. "Anything we can do to help or move a case forward please let us know," said Gerken.
The conference is held annually, with one on the west coast and one on the east coast. The Vidocq Society will be giving lectures about maintaining the integrity of a crime scene, blood splatter and DNA analysis, and equivocal deaths.
A Chief Medical Examiner will be speaking on interview and interrogation techniques and the role of forensic pathology. Another lecture will cover Mexican gangs and ritual murders.
During Monday's lectures, two cold case investigations that have yet to be solved were presented at the conference.
"I thought it would be a good thing to bring the group to a college setting," said Gerken. The information presented at the conference will be useful for the police departments as it may help close some cold case investigations.