ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Thanks to the progress made in the field of DNA technology, the Abilene Police Department has been able to make significant headway in solving previously unsolved cold cases. One such case is the 1982 double homicide of Susanna Flores Brown and her young daughter, where the use of advanced DNA analysis techniques has finally brought some closure to the family and the community.
Jeff Cowan is a detective who has served with the Abilene Police Department for almost 16 years. He works in the Crimes Against Persons department, also known as the Mayor Investigations Bureau (MIB). One of the challenges he faces is solving cold cases, and in 2020, he reopened one such case. After three years of hard work, the case was finally solved, and an arrest was made. Detective Cowan emphasizes that closing a case requires a large team effort.
“Our forensics folks, patrol, the other detectives, our record clerks, everybody,” explained Cowan.
Detective Cowan said advancements in DNA technology led them to solve this case and others.
“I think DNA technology is catching up or has caught up. Ten years from now, who knows what we will be doing,” explained Cowan.
In some cases, there may not be enough evidence to find a solution, resulting in cold cases lasting for years. Other challenges may arise if the people involved have moved or died.
“I think all cold cases are potentially solvable. Obviously, you have cold cases to go through to see what evidence you do have,” stated Cowan.
They expressed their gratitude for the technology that assisted them in the 1982 case.
“So we opened that case up, we discovered a lot. We discovered that a lot of evidence had been tested originally, but we had some stuff looked at and retested. Revisiting these cases, they test additional items, and here we are today, and it’s not just with this case; it’s with other cases as well,” added Cowan.
Sometimes, officers travel far and wide to follow leads and often seek external resources for assistance.
“We will explore any and all avenues available to us. That could be a lab, that could be some private entities, that could be a consulting firm and agency,” said Cowan.
He added that when dealing with cold cases, there is no set deadline you can make to solve it.
“Not solved from eight to five, Monday to Friday. They are solved by tenacity, just putting in that time and effort,” said Cowan.
To Detective Cowan, nothing beats the satisfaction of being able to provide families with closure.
“But to be able to meet with a family many years afterward and speak with them in person, ‘Hey, we never forgot about you.’ You know, it took some time to get here. It’s very rewarding not only for myself but for the department, the community, and people in general,” explained Cowan.
In December 2022, APD established its cold case unit, allowing for more effective investigation of cases.