Members of Dallas’ Cold Case Squad. (Dallas Police)
DALLAS, TX — The Dallas Police Department has provided a glimpse into the work of the Cold Case Squad, a team re-established in 2016 to investigate more than 2,000 unsolved homicides in the area. The squad is comprised of four detectives and one sergeant which have solved more than 15 "unsolved" homicide cases, DPD said in a news release.
"The Cold Case Squad has been able to bring justice with arrests, clearances, and convictions, as well as providing much-needed relief and closure to the families and friends of the victims," DPD added. "The Cold Case Squad is constantly reviewing cases and evidence, while also responding to phone calls, emails, and requests every day. There are witnesses and suspects being sought, cases in various stages of investigation, and results from additional DNA and forensic testing coming in on a regular basis."
Over the past two years, the Cold Case Squad has assisted numerous other law enforcement agencies with their cases. This includes an arrest and subsequent recovery of a firearm along with the Houston Police Department’s Cold Case Unit. This was part of a case they were working on from 1969 and resulted in charging a suspect with murder.
The Cold Case Squad continues to investigate unsolved murders as they answer questions for families of victims and bring justice to the perpetrators, DPD said. The public can email information to the squad at the following address : firstname.lastname@example.org
Detectives assigned to the Unit are:
Prior Sergeant promoted to Lieutenant Earnest Merritt, #8112
Current Sergeant Sim Woodham, #8394
Detective David Gilmore, #5604
Detective Michael Yeric, #7178
Detective John Valdez, #7298
Detective Noe Camacho, #8318
DPD provided the following accounts from the Cold Case Squad from its "SOLVED and CLOSED" file:
On May 16, 1987, 76-year-old Fay Brown was found murdered in her home. The cause of her death was ruled as blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and chest. When the house was processed there were no glaring signs of anything missing. The original detectives collected and tested evidence and followed up on lead after lead, but eventually hit a dead end. Thirty-one years later, the Cold Case Squad received a new lead from the FBI’s Latent Print Unit. A new initiative combined with improved technology and a much larger database lead an examiner to identify a latent print submitted to them years ago. Detectives took this lead and began to re-investigate the entire case: they tracked down and re-interviewed witnesses, and completely re-examined evidence from the crime scene. Additionally, the team sought out and enlisted assistance from the Dallas Morning News Research and Archives Section to identify items of evidence from 1987. The investigation culminated in the positive identification of Carlos Rodriguez as the suspect, who was found to have been living in the state of Utah. Carlos Rodriguez, who had a lengthy criminal history and was a known drug user, recently died of a drug overdose in Utah. As a result, the Cold Case Squad was able to bring closure and an ending to a mystery that lasted over 30 years.
On November 14, 2004, 37-year-old Abdel Qaiyyim was found deceased in a northeast Dallas neighborhood. His body was wrapped in a blanket, bound by coaxial cables, and set on fire. It was determined Qaiyyim died due to multiple sharp force injuries and the case went cold and remained unsolved. Acting on a forensic lead after 14 years, the Cold Case Squad’s investigation resulted in an arrest warrant for Murder being issued for Alberto Salinas. Alberto Salinas was found to be incarcerated in the Texas Department of Corrections on unrelated drug charges and was scheduled to be released in December of 2018. He will now remain in custody awaiting a murder trial.
On the morning of May 5, 1997, 23-year-old Juana "Catalina" Parga left her home to go to work leaving her two-year-old son behind with his stepbrother and father. Catalina never made it to work. Catalina was found inside her small single cab pickup later that day and it was determined she died as the result of multiple sharp force injuries to her body. The original detectives followed up on the evidence and leads but were unable to make a case and the murder went cold. Twenty-one years later, the case was selected to be re-investigated by the Cold Case Squad. The Squad dissected the case file for months, tracked down witnesses, and pursued new leads. The FBI, SWIFS, and multiple law enforcement agencies were contacted and assisted in the re-investigation. On September 24, 2018, the investigation culminated with the arrest of Ruben Labrada in Oklahoma. He is charged with the murder of Juana "Catalina" Parga and is currently in custody in Dallas awaiting trial.
On August 19, 2010, a 16-year-old victim was travelling and sitting in the back seat of a vehicle with friends. There was a second car passing by whose occupants had an on-gong feud with the driver of the vehicle containing the victim. The front passenger in the second car fired into the first car striking and killing the victim. Seven years later, the Cold Case Squad was contacted by family members of the victim and asked to review the case. The Cold Case Squad took the case and re-examined the evidence, resulting in an arrest warrant for Rene Davila and Juan Pedroza. With the assistance of the Dallas FBI VCTF (Violent Crime Task Force), Rene Davila was found hiding in Aguascalientes, Mexico where he was arrested and extradited to Dallas. Juan Pedroza was located and arrested in Ft. Worth, TX. Both are now in custody, charged with murder, and awaiting trial.
On May 29, 1992, Juan Lopez, 18, and an 11-year-old victim were passengers in a vehicle along with two other relatives. A witness, who was seven years old at the time, observed an unidentified male wearing a L.A. Raiders hat lean out of a second vehicle and shoot into the vehicle occupied by Juan and the 11-year-old victim. A single bullet struck both boys killing Juan and paralyzing the 11-year-old victim. The case went unsolved for 26 years until a family member placed a request for the Cold Case Squad to re-examine the evidence. The investigation resulted in a confession from Joseph Buckaloo to the crime. On December 4, 2018, Joseph Buckaloo plead guilty to Murder and received a 30-year prison sentence. During the sentencing phase, family members were afforded the opportunity to make powerful statements to Joseph Buckaloo.
On January 29, 1996, 23-year-old Manuela Dominguez was at home with her six-month-old daughter. Her husband, Manuel Serrano, left for work at around 11 a.m. At approximately 12 p.m., a witness observed a male, who she recognized as the victim’s brother-in-law; suspiciously walk out of Manuela’s apartment. At approximately 9 p.m., Manuel Serrano returned home and found Manuela deceased inside the apartment. It was determined by the medical examiner Manuela died as a result of manual strangulation. The case remained unsolved for 22 years. At the request of the Manuela’s family, the Cold Case Squad reviewed the case. The ensuing investigation resulted in the arrest of Victor Serrano on May 7, 2017, who was found living in Salt Lake City, Utah. On September 6, 2018, Victor Serrano plead guilty to the Murder charge and received a 30-year sentence.
September 24, 1992. Shirley Muhammad, 38, was found deceased lying near railroad tracks in south Dallas by a witness. Shirley was found face down with a ligature tied around her neck. The medical examiner ruled the death was the result of a ligature strangulation. No suspect was ever developed, and it remained unsolved for 26 years. The Cold Case Squad took another look at the investigation after a forensic lead was developed. The result of the investigation was an arrest warrant for Capital Murder for William Noman Allen. William Noman Allen is currently in custody and awaiting trial.
On October 2, 1983, Dalford Cardwell, 22, died as a result of a gunshot wound during a family dispute. The suspect, Daniel Hernandez, immediately fled after the offense and a warrant for his arrest for Murder was issued. Thirty-three years later, the Cold Case Squad was contacted requesting information about the case. A review of the case revealed that the original warrant for Murder was no longer in the system and was not active. A formal review of the case was made and in coordination with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the Dallas Sheriff’s Office, a Murder warrant for Daniel Hernandez has been re-activated.
On September 13, 1990, Rhetha Thurman, 87, was murdered in her home. The medical examiner determined Rhetha died as a result of manual strangulation. Twenty-eight years later, the Cold Case Squad discovered a forensic lead which led to a review of the investigation. The ensuing investigation determined the suspect in the case, Brian Jones, is now deceased. Detectives located the victim’s family and provided them with the results of the investigation, thus allowing them to finally receive the closure they needed.
January 22, 1985, Odell Livingston, 24, was murdered as a result of a gunshot wound. Thirty-three years later, the Cold Case Squad was contacted requesting information about the case. The Squad’s investigation revealed a warrant had been issued for Murder for the suspect in the case, Winifred Noble. It was also determined the suspect is now deceased, leading to the closure of the case.
On December 3, 1995, Alysia Beasley, 27, was found murdered in her home by family members. The Medical Examiner determined Alysia died as a result of multiple stab wounds to the body. Twenty-three years later, the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences (SWIFS) requested the Cold Case Squad review the case. Through improved technology and additional forensic testing detectives were able to positively identify Travis Reddicc as the suspect in the murder of Alysia Beasley. While researching Travis Reddicc, it was discovered that he is now deceased. The Cold Case Squad was able to close the case.
On June 7, 2015, Joshua Rodriguez was shot and killed while attending a high school graduation party. An unnamed suspect fired an assault rifle from a car leaving the scene, striking Joshua. After the case was featured on a local news Cold Case segment, a witness with personal knowledge of the offense came forward to the family. The witness agreed to cooperate with the Cold Case Squad and the investigation. Through the efforts of the Cold Case Squad, the suspect was identified as Dreake Lozano. An arrest warrant for murder was issued for Dreake Lozano for the death of Josh Rodriguez. On September 19, 2018, Lozano pleaded guilty and received a 15- year sentence.
On December 13, 1994, Steven Germany was shot and killed while inside of his car in an apartment complex parking lot. The original case detectives identified three suspects. Two of the suspects were apprehended and subsequently adjudicated. The third suspect could not be found and remained at large. The Cold Case Squad discovered the third suspect had been using multiple fictitious names while in Dallas and other cities. Twenty-four years later, the suspect, Sherod Claxton, was located in-custody (under a fictitious name) in a Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota. He has since been extradited to Texas and is awaiting trial for the murder of Steven Germany.
On December 10, 2011, Jose Avila was shot and killed in a nightclub parking lot. The original case detectives identified a suspect (Leonel Banda) and issued a warrant for his arrest. The suspect fled to Mexico and was never located. Seven years later, the Cold Case Squad was able to determine the suspect’s location in Mexico and filed extradition paperwork to have him returned to Dallas County to stand trial. During this process, the suspect re-entered the United States and was arrested on an unrelated charge in Williamson County under a fictitious name. The Cold Case Squad ultimately was able to identify the man in custody in Williamson County as the same person being sought for the murder of Jose Avila. Cold Case Detectives interviewed the suspect who gave a full and complete statement in which he admitted to murder. Leonel Banda is currently in custody awaiting trial.