For four months, more than 60 students from ten British universities* worked together with the Australian Murdoch University, the Police College Zagreb and the Police Academy of Lower Saxony on six cold cases of infants and children as part of the third International Cold Case Analysis Project (ICCAP). During the project, the students explored the possibilities to identify the children and their parents through modern forensic methods and a media strategy.

The selection of cold cases in the third ICCAP was oriented towards the recent Council Conclusions on future police cooperation in missing person cases, in which special emphasis is given to children. For this reason, four homicides of children from Lower Saxony who were killed immediately after birth (neonaticides) between 1988 and 2014 were analysed. A missing person case of a 7-year-old child from another European state who went missing in 1994 was also studied. At the end of the ICCAP, the findings were presented to the investigators responsible for these cases – as well as 30 cold case specialists from 14 countries. As a result, further investigation was triggered in one of the cases.

In addition to the cold case analyses, the students, led by Maureen Taylor from Glasgow Caledonian University, prepared an ‘Analysis of Neonaticide investigation’ report for the police forces in Europe based on their experiences and ideas from the analysed cases and supplemented with current forensic investigation methods for investigations of other cold cases of neonatal deaths.

The “Gentleman John Doe” Case – student support continues

After the responsible investigators and prosecutors were convinced of the students’ findings from the second ICCAP in September 2021, the exhumation of the unidentified dead man and the launch of a national and international public search to identify the man after almost 30 years was ordered. The investigations continue supported by British universities, Locate International and the Human Remains Service Ireland. Podcasts and TV documentaries on the case are in preparation in the UK and Germany.

Further steps in 2022

The next analysis is planned from June to September 2022. The Saxony-Anhalt Police Academy from Germany and the French Gendarmerie are set to join the current participants of the ICCAP, expanding the project even further. “It’s great to see that more and more police training institutions are getting involved in this great international collaboration”, says Karsten Bettels from the Police Academy of Lower Saxony, who helps run the course.

Some of the cases to be analysed will be accompanied by TV productions to promote this unique ICCAP project in Europe further. A first scientific paper by a total of twelve project participants was published in March 2022 in the journal Science & Justice.

More information:

* South Wales, Plymouth Marjon, Canterbury Christ Church, Glasgow Caledonian, Staffordshire, Bath, Winchester, Leeds Beckett, Central Lancashire and Goldsmiths’ University of London