WUFT News

Detective Heather Phillips: The one-woman shop to solve cold cases

By on October 5th, 2012

While shows like “CSI” may suggest that police departments have large investigation teams to solve disappearances like Christian Aguilar’s, that’s not often the case.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case unit has one lone detective.

Detective Heather Phillips said most of her time consists of going through old files and familiarizing herself with old cases. She said unless an active lead is called in, “it’s not much to do out in the field.”

Phillips said cards with information about unsolved cases are sometimes distributed to prison inmates to elicit new information.

“They get dispersed to inmates through the prison system through the Department of Corrections, hoping that somebody in the prisons have heard or know somebody,” she said. “People talk in prisons and you know, they’re snitches, so we’re hoping that that will develop into some information.”

But DNA testing has contributed in big ways in helping solve cases, Phillips said.

“I have a couple cold cases from the ’70s, early ’80s and obviously it’s come a long ways since back then, so we’re able to do a lot more with the scientific evidence that comes in,” she said.

George Kamenov, a UF associate in geological sciences, has been helping law enforcement with analysis of bone and hair samples for about a year. He has analyzed about 12 cases.

Kamenov recently worked on identifying the woman known as Little Miss Lake Panasoffkee, determining that she was from a country in Southern Europe. Experts had previously thought that she was Indian or South Floridian.

Kelly Price edited this story online.

 


This entry was posted in Crime and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Crime

Police-Youth Picture_Crum

Program Fosters Police-Youth Relationships

The Gainesville Police Department teamed up with the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding to discuss the relationships between police officers and youths. The Police-Youth Dialogue Program gives police officers and youths an safe outlet to share experiences and misunderstandings.


Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams flips down the cover of the VIEVU camera to expose the lens. The newer cameras will be placed on the wearer’s sunglasses.

Live Oak Police To Receive Body Cameras; Suwannee County Sheriff Resists Plans

While the Live Oak Police Department is getting body cameras for its officers to wear, other agencies in the area aren’t as receptive. Privacy and cost are issues they want to look at.


Charges Against 11-Year-Old For Brother’s Death Dropped

Charges against an 11-year-old girl for the shooting death have been dropped by State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister. Her 15-year-old sister, who police say shot and killed their 16-year-old brother, could still be charged. The girls’ parents are also being investigated.


Letroy Guion was arrested after an 11:03 p.m. traffic stop. Guion played football at Bradford High School and Florida State University before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL Player Arrested in Starke on Marijuana and Gun Charges

Letroy Shelton Guion, Jr., who has played for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, was arrested in his hometown of Starke, according to a media release from Starke Police Department.


The Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office, located at 9239 S. U.S. Highway 129, announced Friday that residents are encouraged to use its parking lot to meet and complete online transactions.

Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Becomes Safe Place For Online Sales

Local Craigslist antique seller arranges trade meeting in Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office to ensure safety for both buyer and seller. Ron Mills and the sheriff’s office hope to see more counties adopt the practice in preventing online crime.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments