MADISON -- As criminal investigations age, the likelihood of resolution is dramatically reduced. Key evidence degrades, is lost, witnesses disappear and memories fade. At the same time, new technology and techniques can provide a fresh look at a cold case.

A $500,000 federal grant could help the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

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"Law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin have too many violent unsolved 'cold' cases, which may have the opportunity to be solved," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "Using improved investigative strategies and most importantly DNA technology, there is new hope that crimes can be solved and justice can be served."

Agencies already stretched for resources often struggle to keep up with current crimes and may not have the time and manpower to devote to cold cases.

"During a previous grant furnished by the U.S. Department of Justice, four convictions were obtained for cold case homicides, and dozens of new leads were generated in others which continue to be investigated" said Van Hollen.

One of the cases closed was the Aug. 9, 1986, murder of Lynnea Gran in Superior. She was found beaten to death at Les' Grocery Store, where she worked. Her son, Rodger Allen Gran, was convicted of the murder in 2006.

The majority of new grant funding will be used to hire experienced retired homicide investigators to devote their time to cold case investigations. The cases will be selected based on solvability. The grant will also fund overtime in the crime lab to ensure cold case priority testing and for the Milwaukee Police Department's major unsolved case unit.

"Investigators will partner with other experts in forensics, prosecution, Victim/Witness services and intelligence analysts to bring a more rounded approach and fresher perspective to these challenging cases," said Van Hollen.