HACKENSACK, NJ -- The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office (BCPO) and New Jersey State Police are partnering to assign full time detectives to investigate cold case crimes, to ensure they are not being swept under the rug and forgotten.
The new Cold Case Homicide Unit will be comprised of one Detective on loan from the State Police, and two BCPO investigators.
The new unit will focus entirely on investigating BCPO's unsolved crimes cases, of which there are approximately 90, dating back to the 1950's. The new unit will work off of the warmest, most promising leads, and will span assaults as well as homicides.
One "cold case" recently saw great progress, by the Bergen County Major Crimes Unit, with the help of the BCPO and State Police. That case is the sexual assault and murder of Englewood resident Hyo J. Lee, which took place July 4, 1999. For most of the past 19 years, the BCPO has continued to acquire significant evidence and leads, but not enough to identify the perpetrator. Thanks to diligent police work and new technology, that has changed.
The now-19-year-old evidence has been frequently examined by the State Police, but the technology was simply not good enough to provide a match, said New Jersey State Police Major Geoffrey Noble, Commanding Officer of the Office of Forensic Sciences. According to Noble, new identification technology gave the BCPO sufficient certainty as to the identity of the criminal to charge one Jose Colon for the homicide with Murder and Sexual Assault and that the DNA evidence was matched to Colon through a thorough DNA profile.
"We are here to bring a measure of closure to the families of victims of cold case crimes," said New Jersey Attorney General, who served as Bergen County Prosecutor before accepting his new position earlier this year. "Today we announce charges against Jose Colon for the July 4, 1999 sexual assault and murder of Hyo Lee."
"Through new forensic science, we were able to put a name to the suspect," said Bergen County Chief of Detectives Robert Anzilotti. Anzilotti added that the suspect's DNA was matched because it existed in a database, from a prior arrest in Ohio. That arrest was for another assault, for which he was deported to his native Nicaragua after release from prison in 2005.
"This Cold Case Homicide Unit is testament that the Bergen Prosecutor's Office does not forget the victims of violent crimes, no matter how much time passes, and that we will dedicate the energy and resources to bring justice to those victims whenever possible," said Acting Prosecutor Dennis Calo.
Anzilotti added that the BCPO has contacted The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Department of Justice in Nicaragua, which have lent their assistance in ongoing efforts to locate Colon and then extradite him to the U.S. to face charges. Anzilotti added that any residents with information as to Colon's potential whereabouts should contact the BCPO immediately at (201) 646-2300.