How to be a Digital Detective

Catch culprits from the comfort of your computer.

Chelle Chevelle
4 min readSep 4, 2020


Photo by Max Bordovski from Pexels

It’s the most infamous cold case murder in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s history. In February 1983, the body of a pre-pubescent African-American girl was discarded in the basement of a vacant apartment building in northwest St. Louis. She was found face-down, her hands bound behind her back, wearing nothing but a blood-spattered V-neck sweater. She had been raped, strangled, and beheaded. Mold was growing on her neck. Despite the police force’s dogged investigation, the girl could not be identified (her head was never recovered), and she went to her grave as “Little Jane Doe.”

Since 1980, three years preceding “Little Jane Doe’s” murder, more than a quarter-million Americans have been the victims of unsolved homicides, according to Thomas Hargrove, retired investigative journalist, and former Washington correspondent.

In response, Hargrove founded the Murder Accountability Project (MAP), in 2015. MAP’s website provides the police and the public with easily-accessible FBI-maintained data on more than 30,500 homicide cases.

The group also offers access to an interactive computer algorithm on its website, which has documented murders committed by established serial killers, as well as suspicious murder clusters that may include serial killings.

MAP isn’t the only organization that seeks the public’s help catching culprits. Following is a list of websites, podcasts, Facebook groups, and forums where amateur sleuths are encouraged to fight crime online:

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


The Doe Network: International Center for Unidentified & Missing Persons

The network’s mission is to “give the nameless back their names and return the missing to their families.” They cover both national and international cold cases. The details, including photos, for “Little Jane Doe’s” murder are on their website.




Chelle Chevelle

Not Chevy Chase. BA in Theatre from ASU. Film and photography enthusiast. See her photos at