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In Casablanca, Rick says to Louie, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
This week, I’m grateful to see the beginnings of a beautiful partnership that first took root in April and produced its first blooms Sunday.
The Iowa Newspaper Association (INA) and Iowa Cold Cases (ICC) have partnered for a new weekly project to bring more awareness to Iowa’s unsolved murders in hopes of generating leads that might help solve some of the state’s 438 open homicide cases.
Many Iowa newspapers, both dailies and weeklies, chose to participate in this new series — titled Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s Unsolved Murders — which officially launched Sunday, July 26, with a number of engaging articles, videos, and an interactive map.
Every Sunday for the next 12 months, newspapers throughout the state will spotlight many cold cases that still have potential to be solved.
Many thanks go out to Chris Mudge, executive director for the INA, and Amalie Nash, a Des Moines Register executive editor and vice president, for the long hours and months spent planning and coordinating this collaborative effort. It is a privilege to work with such fine journalists and videographers and other professionals committed to making this project a success.
As we all know, the media play an integral role in ensuring victims are not forgotten and reminding readers a crime has not yet been solved. In fact, the Iowa Cold Cases website would not exist today if shoe-leather reporters from decades past hadn’t interviewed sources and written articles for his or her respective newspaper. While ICC has gathered additional information from law enforcement, victims’ family members and tipsters for the past 10 years, journalists continually enabled our efforts by steadily increasing coverage for countless, often forgotten victims.
We at ICC respectfully credit information used in articles to the original authors and sources; it’s indeed humbling to research cold case news archives and witness how — year after year and decade after decade — each and every trained reporter skillfully added his or her own new stones to a story’s existing foundation.
Now, as today’s journalists tackle this new “Gone Cold” series, we look forward to sharing and examining new unearthed gems that hopefully shine a light toward justice.
Unfortunately, families of some of these murder victims may never receive justice. Some killers may escape without punishment for the heinous acts they committed.
But with no statute of limitations on murder, the intent of the series for Iowa’s newspapers is clear: We want to team up to use our reach in hopes of doing what we can to comfort the families who have lost loved ones by bringing guilty parties to justice.
Journalism’s most noble goal is the pursuit of truth, particularly when it’s been hidden or buried by those who don’t want to see the light of day shine upon the facts. That’s why this endeavor is so important to the state’s newspapers.
Any new leads developed by the series will go to local law enforcement or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Many cases — some decades old — could still be solved (cleared) if viable leads come through to newspapers, police departments or sheriff’s offices. The Nonpareil went on to say:
With this series, Iowa’s newspapers hope to have a far-reaching impact in solving murders that have languished for far too long – and we’re asking for your help to bring long-awaited justice to these victims and their families.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to all newspapers who chose to participate in this project.
The Sunday series launched with articles and videos including:
See the Des Moines Register’s Gone Cold — Iowa Cold Cases page citing articles published as part of this new series.
In closing, I think back to Casablanca — back to the part where Rick tells Ilsa that if the plane leaves and she’s not on it, she’ll regret it. I envision a plane of passengers, all hiding secrets they know could ease a family’s pain, and then flying away from this life and forever leaving things unsaid.
To those with knowledge about a murder and still have time to make a difference, please don’t let the victim’s family members leave this world, one by one, with unanswered questions that haunt them still. You will regret it.
As Rick said, “Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
You have a story you need to tell. Fear not how it might end. Tell your story anyway.
Tell it now. There are only so many tomorrows.
Here’s looking at you, kid.