■ Chronicle News / Staff
Too many horrific homicide cases remain unresolved. The perpetrators, in their perverse minds, must be planning to the minutest detail how to confuse police investigators until the case is superseded by other more recent crimes that impede the authorities from expeditiously coming to a just conclusion every murder case until they get lost in the shuffle for years.
Fortunately for our communities, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Central Homicide Unit (CHU) is structured to restart an inactive investigation picking up where previous inquiries were suspended, until brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
The unit utilizes four squads of five investigators to address the many critical aspects of a death investigation, wherein information is quickly developed and categorized. This will enable the identification of potential subjects, witnesses, evidence and investigative leads. In cases in which the Central Homicide Unit intervenes, a Primary Detective, Secondary Detective and a Crime Scene Manager are assigned to work the case.
The Primary Detective takes lead by managing the investigation, conducting interviews and delegating tasks necessary to complete the investigation. The Secondary Detective is Primary’s support mechanism, helping with interviews and/or other responsibilities relevant to the case. In conjunction with the Forensic Evidence Technician, the detective assigned as the Crime Scene Manager assists in recognizing and collecting evidence at the scene, attending autopsies and documenting the description of the crime scene in a report format.
The Cold Case Team, formed by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department in 2007, comprised by four investigators and a sergeant is a specialized group within the CHU, handling ongoing investigations into unsolved murders which may have taken place as long as 70 years ago. Today, the Cold Case Team reviews cases based on various different elements exploring how new technology and resources, such as DNA, fingerprint and informational databases, etc. might impact a renewed investigation. The case is reopened if the inquiry identifies new suspects, or strengthens the case against known subjects.
The Cold Case Team has aided other departmental teams with high profile cases and upon request, lends its expertise to other law enforcement agencies.
Among recent cold cases solved is a double homicide in which a jogger discovered two bodies in May, 1990, on a dirt power line access road west of Canal and Alta Street in Rubidoux, California. The victims were identified as 19 year-old Stacey Siegrist and 21 year-old Anthony Gianuzzi.
Another cold case solved in August 2010, was the homicide of James Anagnos of Rubidoux, who was murdered in 1977.
The Central Homicide Unit is backed by Crime Analysts who provide investigative support for all homicide investigations, officer involved shootings (OIS), all suspicious death investigations, child deaths, arson, and suicides including officer suicides. Among the primary responsibilities of the analyst is to research the background, criminal and personal, of the victims, suspects and other associated persons requiring extensive investigation through various Law Enforcement and Open Source Intelligence databases. The analysts also respond to support CHU investigators in the field; either responding to the station or via the CART van.