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Omaha Police put area's cold cases in the spotlight in September

September is Cold Case Awareness month. This is the second year OPD has participated in the push to spread information on cold cases.
Posted at 7:27 PM, Sep 27, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For Jameila Hesseltine's sister Buffy Bush, 11 years doesn't erase the pain of losing her.

Hesseltine was killed in September 2011 at 20th Street and Commercial Avenue. Bush said Hesseltine’s body was discovered by her two children.

"Every day is a struggle for me,” Bush said. “She’s thought about, she’s missed.”

Hesseltine’s is one of about 400 cold cases the Omaha Police Department has been working on, dating back to the 1960s.

This September, OPD is drawing attention to the victims and keeping their stories in the public eye.

“Our hope is on each day. Maybe by posting that information out there and by media outlets talking about it, we can get information that might help break one of those cases open,” said Lt. Nicholas Andrews of the OPD Homicide Unit.

The public's tips aren't helping to solve these cases alone. Major technological advances are also making a difference.

In Iowa, the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office is investigating 12 cold cases ranging from the 1960s to the mid-2000s. One cold case was recently solved thanks to advanced DNA technology.

“There was a hit on a suspect and within a few months an arrest was made and a case was built,” said Hadley Kava, a crime scene technician with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office.

Law enforcement says that all of this, along with police work, can take years — maybe decades — to try and find breaks.

“It's a bunch of moving parts,” Kava said. “A bunch of puzzle pieces and that cooperation is a huge piece that's needed.”

Bush said everyone plays a part in helping solve these cases.

“We know our killers haven't forgotten, but let's hope that the ones surrounding them haven't forgotten either,” she said.

OPD has a cold case calendar for the month of September with the story of a cold case victim representing each day of the month.

Police urge anyone with information on a cold case to submit it through the Crimestoppers website. Users can remain anonymous and could receive a reward of up to $25,000 for information that could lead to a break in a case.

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