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Cold cases | Proposed bill would reopen investigations in Georgia

Families would get a chance to see case files.

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers will consider a bill this year that could nudge law enforcement agencies to look at cold cases again. 

There is so much crime, in Atlanta and elsewhere, that cases can get lost in the sheer volume of investigations. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's website shows more than a hundred unsolved murder cases.

Now, some state lawmakers are planning a bill that would give the family of victims a way to reopen cases that have gone cold. That could include the unsolved case of Tara Louise Baker – killed in Athens 21 years ago. Her sister Meredith Baker Schroeder would like it reopened.

"This was in 2001 when DNA evidence was the new hot technology and nobody knew how to process  DNA properly or even apply it to a database to make it useful," Schroeder said. 

She said updated technology can give cold cases new life. 

The case "instilled fear in local residents, it instilled fear in parents sending their young daughters to school here. And it obviously instilled a deep heartbreak in the Baker family," said Cameron Jay Harrelson, who has been talking up the Baker case on his "Classic City Crime" podcast.

Another case backers have cited is the 1990 murder of Rhonda Sue Coleman – killed in the south Georgia town of Hazelhurst – also unsolved. 

Schroeder and Harrelson have been pushing for a new law to give crime victims' families a look at case files if six years have passed. It would also fund a cold case unit at the GBI.

"Not only are these cold cases, but there are violent criminals attached to these cases. This isn’t just a matter of figuring out who did it, but to get these violent criminals," Schroeder said.

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