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Attorney General Brenna Bird announces new cold cases unit

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Attorney General Brenna Bird announces new cold cases unit

Jun 18, 2024 | 7:42 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
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Attorney General Brenna Bird announces new cold cases unit
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Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird held a news conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office June 18, 2024 announcing the creation of the cold case unit within the AG's office. (Photo courtesy the Iowa Attorney General's Office)

Attorney General Brenna Bird has announced the creation of a cold case unit within the state office dedicated to investigating unsolved murders in Iowa.

At a news conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Bird said the new unit, to be officially launched July 1, will consist of three full-time investigators and one prosecutor dedicated to solving more than 400 unsolved murders in Iowa. The staff will work with the local law enforcement agencies where the cases originated to bring a fresh perspective and “seek answers for families,” according to a news release.

Bird, serving her first term as attorney general after defeating longtime Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller in 2022, said that she made it a priority to build a cold case unit when campaigning for the office. She thanked the state legislature for “granting us the budget to make it happen,” and said that the new team would be focused on “detecting new leads” in unresolved murder investigations.

“My promise to families of Iowa cold case victims is this: we will never give up, we will never stop searching, and we will never lose hope,” Bird said. “If even one case is solved, it is all worth it. No one should get away with murder.”

Steve Ponsetto, a retired Division of Criminal Investigation agent and state trooper, will serve as the lead for the unit. He said the investigators will be tasked with reviewing homicides, missing persons as well as cases involving unidentified human remains in cases where local law enforcement have hit dead ends in investigations, according to reporting from Radio Iowa.

“Justice for victims, answers for families, accountability for the perpetrator — these are the goals for this cold case initiative,” he said.

Iowans are encouraged to contact Bird’s office if they have information on cold cases — tips can be submitted by emailing [email protected] or calling the office at 1-800-242-5100.