Cold case review & analysis: Constructivist learning in forensic science through collaboration with law enforcement agencies.


  • Amber Fortney University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute
  • Caitlin Porterfield
  • Wayne Lord
  • Mark McCoy
  • John Mabry
  • Craig Gravel
  • Francia Thompson
  • Michael Huff


Despite technological advancements and improved methodologies in forensic science and investigative practices, cold cases are a growing problem in the United States. Although there has been a surge in interest in solving cold cases due to advancements in technology, there has been very little research conducted on cold case investigation methodology. Many agencies lack the personnel and resources to devote adequate attention to cold cases. Federal dollars spent on cold case resolution in recent years focused only on those cases that could benefit due to improvements in DNA analysis techniques. The literature demonstrates that advances in other forensic disciplines can provide answers in unsolved crimes.  In addition to inherent contributions to investigative invigoration and cold case resolution, collegiate cold case collaborations serve as a template for experiential and transformative illumination of unintended perceptual biases, investigative myopathy, and cognition fatigue. Such endeavors also provide practical insights into the sentinel importance of collaborator diversity, informed creativity, and objective analytics in both actively evolving and cold case investigations. This paper discusses the development of best practices guidelines for a cold case program in a collegiate setting.