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Published July 02, 2010, 03:22 PM

Some local cold cases remain a mystery

Police in the F-M area have dealt with their fair share of cold cases, some are now solved, but others are still a mystery. WDAY 6 Reporter Christina Vaughn talked with officers today to find out what can break a case and how departments work to close every investigation.

(WDAY TV) - We learned more today about the sudden appearance of law enforcement, digging, and using cadaver dogs at a property near where Jacob Wetterling was abducted. Stearns County authorities say they took a number of items from this property near St. Joseph, but it will take weeks, even months, to have the items analyzed and processed.

They did confirm the search is in connection with Jacob's disappearance. Some media outlets in the Twin Cities say the 54-year old man living on the property with his parents, Daniel Rassier, is a "person of interest." Jacob was abducted at gunpoint October 22nd, 1989.

Police in the F-M area have dealt with their fair share of cold cases, some are now solved, but others are still a mystery. WDAY 6 Reporter Christina Vaughn talked with officers today to find out what can break a case and how departments work to close every investigation.

For 16 years, Moorhead Police were baffled by the murder of Sharon Stafford, strangled to death in her mobile home in 1993. The case file was re-opened in 2005 and a year ago in June, 44-year old Clarence Burcham, Stafford's neighbor, was arrested and is now waiting to stand trial.

“Sometimes it takes another set of eyes to take a look at things. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, sometimes we need tips. But that investigator put a lot of time in to it.”

Penas says there was a lot of frustration those 16 years. Moorhead doesn't have a Cold Case unit, so officers only look for new leads when time allows.

“When you give it everything, give it all you've got and you push really hard to get closure, to solve it. And you know, you exhaust every lead, every tool you have and it seems to get nowhere.”

Fargo Police still have no leads on the city's biggest cold case, the disappearance of Kevin Mahoney. Mahoney hasn't been seen nor heard from since 1993. Mahoney's case, and the 3 other cold cases in Fargo are still considered active investigations, but officers say as time goes by, new leads are more difficult to come by, and they rely on the public for tips.

“The smallest thing can turn a case. But if we don't know about it, we can't find it; we need some help sometimes too.”

These days, police use technology to their advantage. Things like video surveillance and other media help them get pictures out to the public, meaning fewer cold cases and more closed investigations.

Officers from both departments are encouraged by the fresh evidence in the Jacob Wetterling case.

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