District Attorney Marian Ryan Announces New Cold Case Unit

Photo collage by William Tauro

WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has announced the launch of a new Cold Case Unit. To lead the team she has hired an experienced prosecutor who will focus exclusively on solving the County’s oldest and most challenging cases. The Unit will investigate unsolved homicides, suspicious deaths where foul play is suspected and missing persons cases.


“I know the enormous hole the loss of a loved one leaves in the life of a family, and I’m determined to do everything I can for every family who has waited years for answers,” District Attorney Ryan said.  “This is a new and aggressive approach to examining our unsolved cases. The Chief of our new unit will be working over the next few months to build a team of specially trained and experienced homicide detectives from the State Police and from each city and town in Middlesex County to review every unsolved homicide case over the last 50 years.”


The work of the Cold Case Unit will be all encompassing, Prosecutors will be re-examining existing evidence and utilizing the latest investigative techniques and technology. This initiative reflects District Attorney Ryan’s unwavering commitment to Middlesex County’s oldest cases. In January, 2019,  the Office solved the oldest case in their history, the 50 year old murder of Harvard graduate student, Jane Britton, through the use of  improved DNA testing measures. In bringing this case to conclusion investigators were able to provide answers  to Jane’s brother and many of her friends who were alive and still haunted by her tragic death.


If after a thorough review, the Cold Case Unit concludes that no further investigative steps can be taken, a copy of the file will be made available, as the Office recently did for the family of Joan Risch, a Lincoln woman who went missing from her home in October 1961.


Attorney Dave Solet has returned  to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office to oversee the Cold Case Unit. Solet, who graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and cum laude from Harvard Law School, previously served in the Office, prosecuting homicide cases, as well as cases involving child exploitation, narcotics trafficking, public corruption and organized crime. Solet has also trained police and prosecutors in a wide variety of topics including search warrants, digital evidence, and the law of weapons.  Solet recently  served as Chief Legal Counsel at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) where he oversaw the secretariat’s legal and legislative affairs. Solet is a member and former co-chair of the Boston Bar Association’s Criminal Law Steering Committee, and serves as a First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps, United States Army Reserve.   


Collaboration with the community will also be a primary focus of the unit, recognizing that the public plays a critical role in moving unsolved investigations forward. If members of the public believe that they have information about any unsolved homicides they are encouraged to contact the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office at 781-897-6600.


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