Cold Case Investigation

Cold case investigations are challenging. Meticulous work takes time. When effort is not met by success because the leads and evidence in a case have not led to the apprehension of person responsible for a murder, it is frustrating and difficult for the victim’s family, the community and the investigative team.

Cultivating, vetting and following up on new leads is a process. The time tables of outside agencies that are assisting the investigation factor into the pace of the investigative process as well. In many instances the investigative efforts on a majority of leads will end with a suspect elimination until this process can be completed on the actual killer.

Despite the inherent challenge of cold case investigations, experience tells us that the passage of time is not always adverse to a successful outcome.  Advancements in  forensic science are ongoing, analytical capabilities continue to  expand and people are constantly adapting to the changing circumstances of life. As a result, time allows for things such as loyalties and relationships to change.  Perhaps sometime over the last 10 years someone has seen plumes of disturbing behavior in someone that knew Jodine, but was not considered a suspect  at the time.  Perhaps someone has suspected someone else all along, but they were reluctant to report it because of a loyalty or relationship at the time that has since changed.  In this regard, time can often be helpful in an otherwise exhausted investigation.

In this case, the suspect’s DNA was collected from the crime scene and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Forensic Laboratory has the suspect’s complete genetic profile. However, the suspect’s profile has not been matched with an offender in the National offender DNA database, known as CODIS. Although one would expect to find that someone capable of committing this horrific crime would have become a contributor to the CODIS database for some other offense, that is not always the case.

There are a number of possible explanations for why the killer in this case is not a contributor to CODIS. DNA collection criteria has changed over time, so depending on the nature of a prior crime and when it occurred, someone that may have an arrest history may not have been required to provide DNA. If the offender’s behavior has historically been more likely to be handled by the mental health system than the criminal justice system, it is less likely that he would be a contributor to CODIS. Based on the victim’s mental health challenges and her social circles, this becomes a significant consideration.

It is not uncommon upon solving a cold case to find that the investigators may have come close to the perpetrator in earlier stages of the investigation, but did not have sufficient information at the time to consider them a suspect. With that being said, we have eliminated dozens of potential suspects by DNA comparisons in this case. Sometimes people who might have initially been overlooked, or who were considered unlikely suspects turn out to be discovered otherwise. Information brought to light at a later date can sometimes be the missing piece of the puzzle that brings it all together.

It is also not uncommon to learn critical information from someone who has quietly suspected a particular person over the years for various reasons. They could be in denial and hoping it will all go away because the suspect is someone they care about.  In some cases the seriousness of the crime has caused a person to doubt that their  own suspicion was significant, but later learned that their suspicion was validated by physical evidence and forensic science.

As part of the ongoing efforts in this investigation, detectives and investigators working this case from the Carlsbad PD and the Cold Case Homicide Team of the San Diego DA’s Office have utilized the latest forensic technology (Snapshot DNA Phenotyping from Parabon NanoLabs, Inc.) to develop a suspect composite. The composite is a computer model based on predicted physical characteristics derived from the killer’s genetic profile. Witness information helped set the approximate age and body mass for the composite.