Delaware cold case unit turns to social media

New Castle County Police are using social media and videos featuring family members of murder victims in hopes of solving cold case crimes. (image via Facebook/NCCPDColdCase)

New Castle County Police are using social media and videos featuring family members of murder victims in hopes of solving cold case crimes. (image via Facebook/NCCPDColdCase)

New Castle County Police Department’s first cold case squad hopes a new Facebook page will help detectives solve some of the county’s 44 open murder cases.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is reach the community,” said Detective Brian Shahan, who is assigned to the unit, along with retired Sgt. Glenn Davis.

Shahan said, “All it takes really, in some of these cases, is just one more person stepping up,” to get an indictment.

Detectives are posting videos of victims’ families to the social media site, with the hope of reaching a broader audience and, ideally, netting some new leads.

“I think that they’re hoping that somebody will see the video, it may either spark a memory or maybe touch a nerve and encourage people to call in with a tip, or encourage somebody else to call in with a tip, and ultimately solve the case, bring justice to those responsible for these homicides and bring closure to the families,” said Master Corporal Heather Carter, public information officer.

Delaware cold case unit turns to social media in hopes of solving some of its oldest unsolved cases. (photo via Facebook)

The “Cold Case NCCPD” page went live a little more than a month ago and some of the videos have had tens of thousands of hits. A video with members of the Di Sabatino family posted last month has had 32,000 views and reached 51,000 people.

Peter Di Sabatino, 20, was murdered outside of his Newark apartment five years ago and the case remains unsolved.

“With all these people looking at our Facebook page and also looking at these videos and such, we’re hoping it gets the word out for more people to look at it, and we’re just waiting for that one call of, ‘Hey, I do remember,’ or ‘I’m ready to talk about it,’ pushing detectives closer to an indictment, in some cases.”

With only two detectives assigned to the cold case unit, manpower is limited. So while Shahan and Davis work a couple of cases at a time, they can post some of the other cases out on Facebook simultaneously and maybe make some progress there with help from the public.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.