How Technology Helped Phoenix Find Serial Killer

A 35-year old Phoenix man has been charged in nine homicides. Police solve the case with the help of high-powered in-house technology to compare bullet casings from multiple crime scenes. It was obtained with a U.S. Justice Department grant.

Phoenix detectives were assembling a jigsaw puzzle of sorts in the past month, piecing together witness statements and physical evidence to mount a nine-victim homicide case against 35-year-old Cleophus Cooksey Jr., the Arizona Republic reports. Key information was gleaned two days after Cooksey’s Dec. 17 arrest in the deaths of his mother and stepfather, leading police to believe he was not just a double-murder suspect but a serial killer. Since mid-2017, the Phoenix police department has been using high-powered in-house technology to compare bullet casings from multiple crime scenes. Investigators previously had to run the technology outside of the department, which could tack weeks onto an investigation.

The result is near-instant leads for police, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “With this new technology, detectives can conduct these tests right here at Phoenix police headquarters and analyze that evidence in real time,” he said. “What once took weeks can now take place in only a matter of hours.” The technology was obtained through a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2016, the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded funding to allow Phoenix to create a regional crime gun intelligence center. Similar grants were awarded to Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C. and Kansas City and are part of the National Crime Gun Intelligence Center initiative. Police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said the department’s goal is to run all crime-gun evidence through the system. Phoenix police also are encouraging investigators at nearby departments to submit their evidence.