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TPD hopes to solve old cases at the Tulsa State Fair

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/05/2012 7:25 pm Published: 10/05/2012 5:43 pm

Everyday in Tulsa crimes go unsolved. In just the past few months at least three people have disappeared and haven't been found. Multiple murders have gone unsolved.

But Friday and Saturday at the Tulsa State Fair Tulsa Police planned to try to close some of those open cases.

In 2011, Tulsa Police Detective Margaret Loveall had a few casual conversations with fair-goers that helped solve multiple crimes.

This year, she decided to bring some DNA kits, hoping some people would offer samples that could help close some old missing person cases.

"Parents, children and siblings of a missing person; cases that have lingered and haven't been resolved," Loveall said.

Every year TPD handles up to 450 missing person cases. Most are found, but detectives have a stack of 40 to 50 cases they've never been able to break.

"The oldest one is a Tulsa case from back in 1974," Loveall said. "And we have got DNA on that case."

Many Tulsans know the story of Tina Pitts, who hasn't been seen since 2006. Many have also heard about Kelly Harris, who went missing from Bixby in July, and Broken Arrow resident Justin Cobb, who disappeared in September.

Cases like these, and dozens of others are what Loveall and her team are hoping to solve.

Loveall said that when family members give DNA samples, it can make it easier and much quicker to find missing people, or at least identify them when they are found.

But detectives also hope that by being at the fair people will feel more comfortable opening up to them with information on other unsolved crimes.

Dakarai Gritts was a big fan of TPD's effort when she visited the department's booth at the fair on Friday afternoon. She said she has known people who have lost loved ones, whose cases are still unsolved.

"A lot of hurt," she said. "And, you know, the wondering. The what if. What has happened? And it would honestly help them if they had any bit of information they'd be able to close that chapter and say 'ok, I know what happened.'"

Gritts thinks the fair gives people a seemingly safer way to help police.

"In a lot of neighborhoods they don't want to talk about it," she said. "And everybody's afraid. 'Oh, I think they might know if I say this, or word might get out that I'm a snitch.'"

Loveall said people shouldn't be afraid to offer up their DNA samples. Federal law only allows detectives to use the samples to help with missing person cases. The samples cannot be used as part of an investigation for any other crime.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

liberty - 10/8/2012 5:45 PM
0 Votes
Who on their right mind would just hand over a DNA sample to a law enforcement agency? Christ.

Mayor Maynot - 10/8/2012 1:35 PM
0 Votes
I don't blame you. Try any way that you can. Hey here's a stroke of genius. Call in a psychic let them read tour tea leaves. Probably be just about as effective.

Unwashed Mass - 10/6/2012 12:04 AM
0 Votes
There was a scathing report on Homeland Security that revealed they were keeping reports on average citizens well beyond the time federal law allowed. Regardless of what the law says, agencies will do as they please with evidence because they have no one to hold them to the law.
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