It takes a special level of dedication to work on cold cases as a member of law enforcement. You are often dealing with evidence that is outdated and deteriorating, witnesses may be difficult to find if they are even still alive, and the statute of limitations regarding many crimes makes the desires of many families to have closure unlikely in the face of budget and personnel limitations. But, the desire to keep working the case can result in peace when the right man or woman is finally brought to justice. There are several families in New Jersey that can sleep with the sense that their loved ones haven’t been forgotten as a cold case has been solved after thirty-three years.
Philander Hampton pleaded guilty to five felony counts of murder this week in the deaths of five Newark teenagers in 1978. He admitted that he and his cousin Lee Evans lured the five boys into an abandoned building and then set the place on fire. Human remains have never been recovered from the scene, as the structure was essentially burned to the ground. Officials believe the murders were in retaliation for some stolen drugs.
The two men were arrested last year following a tip Evans still maintains his innocence, but Hampton has reached a deal to serve only ten years in exchange for testifying against his cousin. Under New Jersey guidelines, he could be eligible for parole after two years.
I have unyielding respect for all members of our law enforcement and the effort they make every day to bring those responsible for criminal activity to justice, whether the arrest takes two days or thirty years. This story should serve as a lesson to those who inflict harm on others—the moment hopefully will come when you are held accountable for your actions, even if it takes decades.
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Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
Book & Crime Talk: www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase/
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting