SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police have made national headlines in recent months with their relentless efforts to solve some of the region's most heinous cold cases. 

In March of 2020, they announced they had finally identified the killer of 12-year-old Marsi Belecz. The sixth-grader had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in 1985. Police utilized DNA technology to find her murderer, Clayton Giese, who was already deceased.

Just last week, SPD also solved the 62-year-old homicide of Candy Rogers. The nine-year-old little girl was out selling mints when officers say she was kidnapped and killed by a man named John Reigh Hoff. Once again, they were able to utilize advancements in DNA technology to identify a killer. Hoff died by suicide in 1970.

While Candy and Marsi's case was in no way connected, the way they were solved was very similar. They were killed by suspects who were unknown to both their families and the police. In both cases, the suspect's names had not surfaced at all during the investigative process until DNA results were back. 

"I’d like to speak directly to those individuals who perpetrate heinous crimes," said Lt. Troy Tiegen who heads SPD's Major Crime's Unit. "I want you to know, we will find you. We are tenacious. We will never give up. In life, or in death, you will be found."

SPD says they currently have more than 100 unsolved murders and recognize there are many families out there still longing for justice and answers. 

"Every time we announce we are solving a cold case, we think this is a great thing and it is, but we have to remember, if we have 111 cold cases, to one family it is good…but there’s also a moment of hope for the other families. Is this it? And it’s sometimes more pain," said Sgt. Zach Storment.

And while time can often hinder, sometimes it is the best resource there is for a detective trying to solve a murder. In the case of Candy Rogers, Othram Inc, a lab in Texas, was just what they needed to finally find out who was responsible for killing the little girl.

"If you can have this kind of outcome on a case from 1959 with imperfect DNA, it should give hope to so many other cases," said Othram CEO David Mittelman. "Although this is an extraordinary event, I hope in a few years, it becomes ordinary. I think you should demand and expect that these cases be solved."

Of course, that takes time, money and also passion. And passion is something SPD has no shortage of, even without the designated resources.

"We do not have a cold case unit; it is a part-time endeavor," Lt. Tiegen said. "I think these cases are just as important as recent homicide cases."

SPD says they are currently actively working on a few other cold cases. They encourage anyone with information out there on any unsolved homicide to come forward, no matter how much time has passed.