middle aged female wrote:
Craig wrote:Anyone know how to get information about a rape-murder case/investigation that took place in Detroit sixty years ago? Newspapers.com has a story from early on in the investigation but then the trail goes cold. The deceased was a former girlfriend of a relative. They fell out of touch, relative moved out of town, young woman was kidnapped, raped, and killed. Relative is now elderly, just discovered the internet, and called me tonight in a tizzy: how do I find out who did this and how they were punished? So, where in the hell does one start? My relative was good and gone at the time of the crime so stifle the smartass comments that I know I'd be tempted to make if it was someone else asking.
I was going to suggest Newspapers.com, but it seems that you already did. Do you have Ancestry.com; you might be able to get some info through there. If you don't and you want to PM me the name, I will take a look for you.
Your options are limited, but there are a couple of options.
You could scour old Detroit newspaper microfiche records from that period. My experience with sites like newspapers.com is they are limited in capturing what was actually reported. I'd start at the main Detroit public library branch on Woodward.
My dad had a friend who was killed in the city, oh twenty-five years ago. This friend owned a couple of ghetto houses he rented out and a dispute with a tenant went violent and that was that. Curious about what happened years after the homicide, long after the Al Gore internet was invented, I tried to find a news story about the incident. There was nada. Just like today, newspapers only report a fraction of what goes on. Yesterday, there were probably fifteen to twenty shootings in the city, two dozen car jackings, and a couple of homicides. How many of those stories will get covered in today's news? Maybe one or two, maybe none.
The smarter approach would probably be submitting a Freedom of Information Act Request with DPD or the 36th district court asking for copies of the investigative file. You'll get the run-around at first, like a letter stating that all archived records are maintained by another department, or that such request would cost you hundreds of dollars blah blah blah, but the bottom line is once you cut through all the bureaucratic red tape, somewhere out there is a file containing the police reports and court adjudications. It's one of millions of buried files that aren't digitized, and may even be misfiled, so be very specific in what you are asking for as ambiguity makes it easy for a frustrated (and over-worked) clerk to dismiss the request as unanswerable. And be prepared to be patient- it could take months before you hear anything back and many more before you get to the bottom of it. Good luck and hopefully your relative has many moons left, as it could take that long.