Online database providing new hope for unsolved crimes

ViCAP helps provide new leads on cold cases

SAN ANTONIO – Law enforcement agencies from around the area are being trained on how to use the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP, to help provide new leads in unsolved or cold cases.

The online database allows detectives to search for similarities between their case and thousands of others across the country. Only crimes that are serial and violent in nature can be entered in the database.

"What we're looking for, are those cases that are random, motiveless," said FBI crime analyst Rick Blankenship, who leads the training. "There's just something different about the case."

One such case in ViCAP is the July 2013 murder of Martha Batchelor, 53, who was found dead in her apartment.  Detectives believe she had been sexually assaulted, and have few leads in the case.

This month police said they believed a woman may have also been involved in the crime.

"They aren't forgotten," Blankenship said. "Their case is not somewhere in a file. It is being looked at on a regular basis on a daily basis."

For agencies like San Antonio Police Department, the hope is that ViCAP leads them to a suspect not only in Martha's murder, but the many other mysteries, that have gone unsolved.

"We've got cold cases, unsolved cases. Maybe the perpetrator is not local in San Antonio, maybe it's somebody that is transient," said Sgt. David Evans with SAPD's Homicide Unit. "Other agencies might have cases similar to ours, in which we'll be able to compare notes if there's similarities."

There are about 85,000 cases, both solved and unsolved, in ViCAP right now, with more cases being entered every day.

There is still a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Batchelor’s case.

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