I have been watching old episodes of New Tricks, a British crime drama series. UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad) reinvestigates murders that have gone cold. This is one of several “cold case” type shows and they all give us an example of what to do when one of your genealogical cases goes cold.
The detectives go back and look at each piece of evidence again. They formulate new theories instead of just assuming that the original line of enquiry was correct. The detectives also takes advantage of technology that wasn’t in place during the original investigation (DNA for example). The new team has a fresh set of eyes so they might see things that the original investigators overlooked.
This is probably my favorite brick wall technique. I will set aside a frustrating case and then just forget about it for awhile. When I pick it back up I start at the beginning and I look at everything again. I like to manipulate the data in as many ways as I can (spreadsheets are your friend). I also like to have a fellow genealogist look over my data in case I am overlooking something obvious. I survey the available databases to see if maybe something new is out there. I also consider DNA just like the police detectives do.
Just because your case isn’t solvable today doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow.
Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis