AP NEWS

Middlesex DA Creates Cold Cast Unit

April 11, 2019

WOBURN - Alecia Clark was 11 years old when she discovered her mother lying in a pool of blood on the floor of their Lowell apartment. The day was Nov. 19, 1985. Patricia Clark, a 32-year- old, single mother of three, had been stabbed to death.

Though a suspect was named, mystery enveloped the brutal murder at 16 Morse St. and the case went cold for more than two decades. It was not until 2007 when the evidence gathered led to a firstdegree murder conviction of then 65-year-old Fitchburg resident Walter Emeny.

The Patricia Clark murder is one of the cases Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan references while discussing her recent decision to launch a Cold Case Unit.

“I know the enormous hole the loss of a loved one leaves in the life of a family, and I’m determined to do everything I can for every family who has waited years for answers,” Ryan stated in a March 25 press release announcing the new unit.

The Cold Case Unit will investigate the county’s oldest and most challenging cases, including unsolved homicides, suspicious deaths where foul play is suspected and missing-persons cases.

To lead the unit, Ryan hired attorney Dave Solet, who previously served in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office prosecuting homicide cases, as well as cases involving child exploitation, narcotics trafficking, public corruption and organized crime.

Solet has also trained police and prosecutors in a variety of topics including search warrants, digital evidence and the law of weapons. He recently served as chief legal counsel at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, where he oversaw the secretariat’s legal and legislative affairs. “This is a new and aggressive approach to examining our unsolved cases,” Ryan said. “The chief of our new unit will be working over the next few months to build a team of specially trained and experienced homicide detectives from the state police and from each city and town in Middlesex County to review every unsolved homicide case over the last 50 years.”

The unit’s development also stems from the advancement of forensic technology - an area of science Ryan said has come “generations” over the last 25 years.

“People forget we didn’t really start using DNA in Massachusetts until the 90s, and even then, it was a very long process,” Ryan said.

Ryan estimates more than 100 cold cases persist within the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, including a number of cases uncharged out of Lowell.

As part of the unit’s announcement, Ryan revealed a decision to make a copy of the cold case file available to the public if, after thorough review, the Cold Case Unit concludes no further investigative steps can be taken.

Collaboration with the community will be a primary focus of the unit, according to Ryan. If members of the public have information about unsolved homicides, they are encouraged to contact the state police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office at 781- 867-6600.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis