SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – It was Super Bowl Sunday in 2001, and 18-year-old Jill-Lyn Euto wasn’t answering her mom’s calls. The next day Joanne Browning went to check on her daughter at her apartment on 600 James St. when she found Euto’s body. Her daughter had been stabbed to death, and over 20 years later, police still don’t know who did it.
There are 80 cold cases in the city of Syracuse that police can’t solve. Most of these cases are seemingly random shootings. Trooper Jack Keller with the New York State Police said murders and homicides aren’t considered closed cases until they are solved because the statute of limitations never ends.
Euto’s case is still open, but Browning will never find out what really happened to her daughter. She died without answers at University Hospital in 2007.
Boni Driskill is the mother of another cold case victim. Her daughter, Lacy Ferguson, was murdered, and her case went cold for 13 years. Driskill met Browning when they were both raising awareness of their daughters’ cases, and she said she loved Browning.
“I loved her,” Driskill said. “She worked so hard trying to get her daughter’s case solved, and I don’t even know if it’s solved to this day.”
Driskill’s story has a better ending. After 13 years, police finally found the man who killed Ferguson. He is serving 61 years and two additional life sentences. Driskill says having him behind bars is a huge relief.
“The fact that I know that he’s locked up, and he can’t do this to others is what makes me feel better,” she said.
Ferguson’s story is just one example of a cold case eventually getting solved. Keller said that police will regularly look back at old cases to see if there is new information available or if advancing DNA technology could be helpful.
There are other resources determined to solve cold cases. The Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University focuses on racially motivated cold cases. The College of Saint Rose has a Cold Case Analysis Center that lets students apply what they learn in forensics and criminal justice classes.
Christina Lane, the program director, said that their biggest goal is to help police by giving them the necessary information and tips; this way, police save time investigating and they can get right to the hands-on work.
Lane said that it’s an incredibly long process to close a cold case.
“With cold cases, you have to view it as a very slow burn,” said Lane, who holds a Ph.D. from the University at Albany. “We’re not gonna come in and say ‘hey, we’re gonna solve it.’ That’s not our perspective. Our perspective is [that] we are here to help.”
Even though her daughter’s case was closed, Driskill said she’ll never find closure.
“Closure is not a real word in this department… When you tell a family ‘Oh did you get closure?’ No, you don’t get closure,” she said. “It’s not there because the person doesn’t come back.”
Driskill said she thinks there is still hope for the Euto case. She hopes someone looks into any DNA that may have been collected on the scene.
“My heart’s with all these people who are still fighting,” she said. “I know what it’s like.”