WilCo Cold Cases Getting New Eyes
Williamson County is known for keeping cold cases warm, and Sheriff Robert Chody is maintaining and enhancing that effort with a new Reserve Deputy program. He has already been featured in regional media and the program is receiving great response.
“This is a program we had in my Constable office,” Chody says. “It worked well before—reserve deputies often provide patrol and staff support—but a Cold Case Unit is a brand new approach; the first time we have provided the opportunity as part of an investigative team.”
Chody’s program allows retired or otherwise inactive law enforcement members to work as volunteers for the Sheriff’s department and in return they can continue to carry their peace officer license. “It is an exchange of benefits and there are many ‘wins’ as a result. The County gets great work done at no cost to the taxpayers, officers get to keep their license, and victims and families are assured their cases and loved ones are still top of mind. At the same time, my active duty officers are free to focus on current cases.”
Officers have applied with experience in robbery/homicide, some from Austin PD and as far as the LAPD. “We will be happy to have the experience of any cop from anywhere,” Chody says. “We want people with career detective and investigation experience to be fresh eyes on these cases.”
Once a reserve deputy himself, Chody reports his reserve deputies will likely be working one or more of ten cold cases, including the 2002 disappearance of Rachel Cooke.
Since the story aired on TV news, he has received approximately 30 applications, including many retired officers from Williamson County. “The point of the recruiting is to get our cases moving forward with people who understand how to build a case and talk to witnesses. Cold cases can be frustrating because you are doing the same things and expecting different results. Families have told me they love the change and we are even working on new tips.”
Chody adds the department will never give up on behalf of “Orange Socks” (’79), Althea Rogers (’85), Gorge Gaiton (’87), SE Ritchwy (’88), John Myatt (’94), Jessica Harris (’94), Sharon McCool (’98), Sonya Wallace (’99), and Rachel Cooke (’02).
A new tips e-mail address will be available soon. Visit WilcoOnline.com