Approaching Cold Case Sexual Assaults

Sexual assault is one of the most challenging crimes to investigate, and cold cases present even more unique difficulties. Many cold cases have minimal evidence, so considerable time will be needed to locate and re-interview the victim, suspect, and witnesses.


While cold cases do present unique challenges, it is important to remember that there have been numerous improvements in the field of forensic science, which is constantly evolving. It is possible that more advanced testing could shed new light on old evidence. As you review your case evidence, consider consulting with the KSP Lab to determine if additional testing is possible.

Re-evaluate all evidence in the corresponding investigation.

Prepare for Hit Notification

The KSP Central Lab will notify law enforcement and the prosecutor of CODIS hits.

Receive Hit Notification

Search for the victim and coordinate with local rape crisis center to plan notification.

Prepare for Victim Notification 

Rebuild trust and approach victim with patience and care.

Engage With Victim

Checklist and other information to assist with these cold cases.

Additional Considerations

Victims who were not perceived as credible at the time of their assault may have been exhibiting what is now widely recognized as typical post-trauma behavior.

Trauma-Informed Approaches

This project was supported by Grant No. 2017-AK-BX-0009 and 2019-AK-BX-0015 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

©2020 by SSH Consulting, LLC