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ASU partners with Purdue to co-host inaugural Cold Case Symposium


Yellow police caution tape that reads "Crime scene do not cross."
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September 15, 2022

For years, America's consumption of true crime documentaries, books, podcasts, movies and TV shows has steadily grown, with the category easily becoming one of the most popular among all genres. 

A new event co-hosted by Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Department of Entomology seeks to go beyond entertainment and bring awareness to the cold case crisis in the United States.

With over 200,000 unsolved murder and missing persons cases in the U.S., increased visibility and advocacy is more important than ever, said Lauren Weidner, assistant professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences.

“​​I am excited to share this information not only with the ASU and local community but also on a national scale, thanks to our collaboration with Purdue University,” Weidner said. “Through the symposium, we hope to shed light on the cold case crisis in the U.S. while also sharing how we can all be advocates for this important cause.”

The inaugural Cold Case Symposium is open to community members, students, faculty and staff, and will be hosted from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, at ASU’s West campus and online via Zoom in recognition of National Forensic Science Week. The event will feature three speakers who will share their personal experiences working with cold cases, including:

  • Kelsi Germanadvocate and sister of Liberty German, who will speak about the 2017 unsolved double murder of Abigail Williams and Liberty German and the experiences and challenges her family faced in their pursuit of justice.
  • David Robinson II, advocate and father of missing geologist Daniel Robinson, who will speak about his son’s case, the evidence recovered and his continued search to locate his son.
  • Sarah Turney, advocate and host of the true crime podcast "Voices for Justice," who will speak about the power of social media and her experience with propelling missing persons cases into the spotlight.

Attendees of the symposium will also learn about cold case resources and hear about student work being conducted at New College and Purdue University. Last spring, New College launched FOR 496 - Forensic Science Service Learning, a new course created by Weidner in collaboration with Krystal Hans, an assistant professor of forensic entomology at Purdue University. In the course, students use their knowledge of forensic science to work on various service learning opportunities that include working on cold cases, lesson planning and activity design with high school educators and educating the general public.

“This year, we’ll be focusing on a lot of Arizona cases, particularly ones in the Phoenix area, with the hope that families that are local can attend in person to better network with people who have shared experiences and to understand the resources that are available to them,” Hans said. “We will have counselors on site as well, as we realize the nature of this topic and its accompanying material is triggering. We want to support families and our participants as much as we can.”

Registration for the event is open to ASU students, faculty, staff and community members. Learn more or register at newcollege.asu.edu/destinationwest.

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