Cold case squad looks to solve New Castle County murders

The two-man unit scours all sources for information on unsolved murders in northern Delaware, from DNA evidence to social media.

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The arrest of a suspect in a 30-year-old Wilmington murder led New Castle County’s cold case squad to Dalton, Georgia.

The case of Joseph Braun, a piano teacher, who was killed in his home near Wilmington on July 1, 1985, had sat on the shelves until the cold case squad reopened it.

“I was approached by our now-retired Col. Elmer Setting, who had the wisdom to want to start a cold case homicide unit,” said Glenn Davis, who is half of New Castle County’s cold case unit.

Davis, who serves in a civilian capacity, along with Detective Brian Shahan make up the two-man squad. Davis says his civilian status limits him in some ways, but he’s still able to use his investigative skills to the fullest.

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Shahan is a 20-year-old vet who admits to having to make some adjustments to his work style when he took the job. “I was a little hesitant because where I came from before was a fast-paced from a task force to major crimes. We dealt with shootings, robberies, homicides and to kind of pull the brakes and slow down a little bit was a little tough for me.”

Slowing down, so they could thoroughly review all the evidence wasn’t a problem for Davis. By definition, it takes a long time to resolve cold cases. “We most recently cleared a case that we were investigating for the better part of a year and a half,” he added.

The Braun case is one of three the squad has closed since the unit started in 2014.

The men say they rely on patience, good old fashion police work, and forensic science in solving cases. They’re also turning to social media for help. The unit is working on a Facebook page. “So sometimes, unfortunately, there are people who don’t want to deal with law enforcement directly,” Shahan said. They hope the unit’s Facebook page and website, which is under construction, will draw people who may have clues to murders to its page.

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