Across the United States, there are dozens of devastating incidents that go unsolved each year, leaving active cold cases that persist for long periods of time. When this happens, the victims don't receive the justice they deserve, and the families are left wondering what happened to their loved one. Not all cold cases end poorly, however, and there have been a number of missing people found decades after their disappearance.
The cold cases people forgot about leave families and loved ones stranded in their search to solve the event that changed their lives. Whether a person is still missing, a suspect has been ignored, someone has been wrongfully convicted, or there just isn't enough information to lead investigators to the proper sources, national attention might prompt any ordinary or unsuspecting citizen to uncover the clue law enforcement has been missing. The crimes themselves - and some of the photographs or audio released to the public regarding the people who disappeared - may be disturbing to some readers. Although this article does not feature said photos, please take caution when researching these active cold cases.
If you have any information that might help authorities in any of these cases, please follow the appropriate links.
Angela Mischelle Lawless
Angela "Mischelle" Lawless was found inside her running vehicle in November 1992, and to this day, her final moments remain a mystery. Lawless had been shot, the lights were on in her car, and the engine was running. When one of two twin brothers discovered her, their story left investigators with even more unanswered questions.
In 1994, Josh Kezer was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 60 years in a penitentiary that was once labeled "the bloodiest 47 acres in America." Kezer served 16 years before he was exonerated and declared "actually innocent," which left Lawless's case officially unsolved.
Before Kezer was falsely accused, the twin brothers who found her were responsible for giving police unreliable information that could have interfered with the investigation. Although the men are on law enforcement's radar, there is no public evidence to indicate whether they were directly involved.
Additionally, the sheriff is believed to have meddled in the investigation, preventing the case from being properly vetted. As of 2019, the incident is unsolved.
Kendrick Johnson was found rolled up in a vertical mat in the gym of Lownes High School in January 2013. The initial examiners ruled his demise "accidental positional asphyxia," which fit investigators theory that he became stuck inside the mat while reaching for a pair of sneakers and subsequently suffocated.
Suspicious circumstances lead Johnson's family to believe there was more to the story. They went on to exhume his remains so that a private autopsy could be performed. That autopsy concluded Johnson was a victim of "blunt force trauma." His parents believed investigators were covering for two boys Johnson didn't get along with, but video evidence suggested the accused were nowhere near the gym at the alleged time of Johnson's passing.
When the investigation went cold, Johnson was exhumed a second time to try and ascertain what exactly happened to him, but a lack of evidence - his missing clothes which might have had DNA evidence on them - and a great deal of uncertainty have left this case wide open.
His parents set up a Facebook page in remembrance of their son that you can contact if you have any relevant information or simply want to support their efforts to push investigations into the circumstances surrounding Johnson's demise.
The Doodler is the name given to an unidentified offender who hunted in the gay community of San Francisco, CA, between 1974 and 1975. He is called the Doodler due to his penchant for sketching his victims prior to engaging in sexual encounters and ending their lives.
Police believe that the Doodler is responsible for attacking three men and ending the lives of 14 men after meeting them at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. The case went cold when a young man believed to be a suspect wasn't charged. This suspect was released after the three men he allegedly attacked refused to testify for fear of outing themselves.
Other suspects arose, but the case remains open. Though it is a cold case, the SFPD began reexamining the evidence using modern DNA testing methods as of May 2018. By February 2019, a $100,000 reward was offered to anyone who might have information that could lead to an arrest.
If you have any information, you can contact Inspector Cunningham of the SFPD at (415) 553-9515 or Text-A-Tip to TIP411 with "SFPD" at the beginning of the message.
Timmothy James Pitzen
Timmothy Pitzen was 6-years-old when he disappeared in May 2011. He was picked up by his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, shortly after the boy's father dropped him off at school. She took him on a three-day trip to various amusement parks before she was found in a motel room in Rockford, IL. She is believed to have ended her own life, and she left a note indicating that Timmothy was safe.
According to Timmothy's father, James, the note had the following information:
She apologized for the mess she created, and that Timmothy was safe with people who loved him and he would never be found... Safe with people who loved him and would never be found.
The investigation revealed the tool she used to end her life contained only her DNA, but there was "a concerning amount" of blood in her car that is said to match Timmothy. No information pertaining to the boy's whereabouts have surfaced.
In April 2019, a 23-year-old man claimed to be Timmothy but was ultimatly revealed as a fraud. If you have any information regarding Timmothy's case, please contact the authorities. Otherwise, keep an eye out for a boy who might reassemble the kid in these images.