Several local families continue to seek justice years, and in some cases decades, after a loved one has been murdered.

But the Erie Police Department is hoping its new cold case detective can solve some of these unsolved murders.

The city’s new cold case detective says it’s rewarding to bring families some closure.

“I couldn’t fathom having a loved one lost to something like this and not having answers,” said Detective Sgt. Craig Stoker, cold case investigator, Erie Police.

That’s the Erie Police Department’s new cold case investigator, Craig Stoker.

Detective Sgt. Stoker isn’t new to the department, he’s worked in the major crimes unit for many years. His newest task is to take a look at more than 20 unsolved homicide cases and to figure out which have the highest probability of being solved.

“Take the case and update it to today’s standards. Get all the reports in the computer so it’s legible. Take the evidence, look over the evidence, see what’s been tested, what hasn’t been tested,” said Detective Sgt. Stoker.

Stoker says advances in forensics have made it easier to solve cold cases.

This fall, the City of Erie received a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which will fund Stoker’s work for the next two years.

His work so far has led to an arrest in the 1988 murder case of Helen Vogt. Police have charged the victim’s grandson, Jeremy Brock, with homicide.

The executive director of the Crime Victim Center of Erie County says they work with law enforcement to help families. 

“Being able to bring those stories to a close and to give the family some finality is really, really important. Of course, we will continue to work with those groups and those families as long as they need services and they’re still suffering those traumatic experiences,” said Paul Lukach, executive director, Crime Victim Center of Erie County.