MARINETTE - Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve says he still has a handful of high-profile cold cases awaiting a break.
"I know we have a 1972 homicide that we've got a partial profile," Sauve said. "We've got a double homicide from 1976, where we have a full profile."
Despite the lack of recent leads, news of another possible break, through DNA testing, spawns new hope.
"Whenever I see another sheriff or chief of police on TV and they have a DNA hit, and they make a case, it's encouraging," Sauve explained.
The Department of Justice says advancements in technology have made those success stories possible.
"The technology is so much better, what we can do; make extractions from much smaller samples. The successes are getting better," explained DOJ's Administrator for the Division of Law Enforcement Services Brian O'Keefe.
Currently, the state uses the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS to search for possible DNA matches in both old and new cases. It's a nationwide database.
According to the DOJ, the state lab averages about 555 DNA databank hits a year, matching potential suspects to evidence in thousands of crimes.
O'Keefe did not know how many of those were cold cases.
"We run it against not only people who have been convicted or provided samples from our own state, but across the nation," O'Keefe said. "It's been a very important tool for law enforcement to solve old cases and bring justice for the victims."
Sauve hopes to see more breaks as the database grows and the technology evolves.
"I'm still hopeful we can make a clearance on those," Sauve said.
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