Shawnee County is one step closer to catching the killers in nearly 70 unsolved homicide cases in the area. County commissioners approved $75,000 Monday for District Attorney Chad Taylor to start a Cold Case Homicide Unit.
A Crime Stoppers television special called Capital Cold Cases depicts several murders in the Shawnee County area that remain unsolved, including that of 18-year-old Tirell Ocobock, who was beaten to death in 1976.
The efforts to give families like hers justice are growing.
Two Shawnee County Commissioners approve funds for Taylor's Cold Case Homicide Unit – money he says he doesn't have because crime has evolved.
"What we're looking at is multiple co-defendants on a single homicide case and those co-defendant cases are extremely resource straining," Taylor says.
He also expects the two pending death penalty cases in his office to drain funds.
"Right now a death penalty case is estimated to cost $1.26 million to be able to prosecute from beginning to end," he says.
Crime Stoppers coordinator and former Topeka Police Officer Doug Searcy knows the need for this unit – he finished his career on the T.P.D. Homicide Cold Case Squad.
"Where we failed was after cases get to a certain age, they fall into a box, they fall into that file, they're never closed but they aren't actively worked," Searcy says.
He says in Shawnee County there are 69 unsolved homicides dating back to 1954.
"There's no better time than the present to take active consideration to make this happen," Searcy adds.
At the commission meeting there was no date decided on when the Homicide Cold Case unit would start.
After this year, Taylor plans to request $150,000 annually to finance the unit until 2017.
That covers about half of the expected annual costs, which will provide salaries for two full time prosecutors and one part time investigator.