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Old unsolved cold cases in Pima County get a fresh look

New strategies used to help crack cases
DNA
Posted at 4:51 PM, Apr 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 01:23:55-04

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — They live in the minds of families and investigators for decades, cases that go cold. Now, a newly assembled group of retired homicide detectives are breathing new life into unsolved cases at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Retired homicide detective James Gamber is one of the detectives working the cases.

These days, Gamber and four other retired investigators are volunteering their time and digging into a select list of cold cases, and chances are the people involved in those old cases might be ready to talk, and add more details.

RELATED: Cold Case unit volunteers to solve old homicide cases in new era

Gamber says the 2017 murder conviction of David Watson is a classic example.

"That knock on the door and the look on their face - they’re absolutely stunned. That was an interesting case because it was solved based on changing loyalties,” Gamber said.

After more than 15 years of sticking to a story about an alibi, the story told by Watson's former ex-wife suddenly changed, and Watson was convicted of murdering his first ex-wife Linda, former mother-in-law Marylin Cox, and family friend Renee Farnsworth.

"It was the re-interview of his second wife that opened that case right up. Then the discovery of Linda’s remains,” Gamber said.

RELATED: The daughter of convicted murderer David Watson speaks candidly to KGUN 9

Now detectives like Gamber are digging through old files and going back to the scene of the crime to unlock the secrets of a killer and KGUN 9 got access to the vault that holds that information.

"You have to look at reusing your evidence and exposing your evidence to new technology,” Gamber said

Now, Gamber is using new technology to solve the murder of 17-year-old Diane Marie Hundt. The case has been cold for more than 35 years. Gamber says the teen was found strangled to death hours after leaving home on New Year’s Eve of 1985. Bow hunters discovered her body near El Camino Riconado and Tanque Verde the next day.

“You develop small new avenues of investigation. It’s a rape murder of a young girl, she was found on the side of the roadway out on the east side. It appears that she had been redressed after the assault,” Gamber said.

Nowadays, DNA and genealogy data has the case heating back up. Samples were sent to a lab in Phoenix for analysis. For investigators, the goal is the same, to give families some degree of justice.

“We have a male profile; we’re not getting a hit on convicted felons and people of that nature, so now we need to look at family trees. Yeah, when you walk out of the courtroom after the jury verdict and see the survivors, that's the reward for all the work,” Gamber said.