Local News


Vegas police's new push to solve cold cases

Posted at 6:21 AM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 09:21:53-04
There are nearly a thousand unsolved murders in our valley and that's just the caseload from one jurisdiction. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officials said they've recently hired two veterans to help tackle homicides dating back to the 1940's.  The hires are partly attributable to advances in DNA technology.  
"We're getting DNA hits on some of these old cases," said Lt. Dan McGrath. 
The problem:  there's already been over 90 homicides this year.  Detectives just don't have extra time to methodically review old files.
"We're so focused on our current homicides," said Lt. McGrath.  
So just weeks after being appointed the head of homicide, the lieutenant requested two additional part-time investigators.  
Retired Sgt. Ken Hefner came on board in mid-August.  Detective Dean O'Kelley joined the small unit soon after.  
Together, two men have over 50 years of shared experience at Metro.  
"It was that constant nagging," said Detective O'Kelley, "the cold case room being filled with files of people whose murders haven't been solved."
Hefner said the passage of time can be an advantage. 
"Allegiances change, people get out of relationships, maybe they want to retaliate, maybe they were prohibited from talking to the police," said Hefner. 
Another advantage, cold case detectives can concentrate on a few cases at a time, unlike full-time detectives juggling many murder investigations. 
"We're trying to focus on completely going through a case, doing what can be done, maybe sending off some lab requests," said Hefner. 
Lt. McGrath said the goal is to slowly create a cold case squad of up to eight. 
"I really do think we're going to show success," said the lieutenant. 
One North Las Vegas family understands the pain of having an unsolved case.  
It's been nearly 5 years since Darren Rael was shot and killed on Oct. 22, 2010.
The 44-year-old father of two was on a job when he was gunned down outside a home on Iverson Lane, near Gowan Road and Clayton Street, in North Las Vegas.
"His son graduated high school, I got to watch him," said Rael's sister Nicole Sena, "he wasn't there, his son's having a baby, he's not there, it's horrible, there's a part missing."
Police said a homeowner had hired Rael to fix his car when a stranger approached and asked them for money. When they said they had none, the stranger pulled out a gun and shot Rael.
North Las Vegas police said they are still actively investigating.
"If you know anything, say something, help a family," said Sena. 
Tips can be sent anonymously to CrimeStoppers at (702) 385-5555. 
If you have a question about a Metro cold case, officials said to send a detailed email to coldcasehomicide@lvmpd.com.  Additionally, you can leave a short message requesting information at (702) 828-8973.