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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Cook County Sheriff’s Office Launches Initiative To Investigate Old Missing Persons Cases

Three full-time detectives will work with local law enforcement on cases dating back to 1930, with priority on missing women.

Chicagoans marched through Bronzeville on June 22, 2021 for the fourth year calling for justice for the dozens of missing or murdered women in the city.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is reopening cold case disappearances, focusing first on missing women.

The Missing Persons Initiative will prioritize cases three years and older, Sheriff Tom Dart said, adding that his office has “new tools” to assist searches. Some cases date back to 1930, 170 of them unresolved.

While the department already has a dedicated missing persons team, the new project will allow three full-time detectives to partner with local law enforcement agencies. Men make up the majority of missing people, but noting recent media coverage around murdered and missing Black women, Dart said women will be first on the list.

The family of Viola Martin, who was 56 years old when she disappeared from her daughter’s Glenwood home in December 2009, joined Dart at a Wednesday press conference in hopes of generating tips leading to her whereabouts.

Martin’s tan Chrysler sedan was found several days later in another suburb, miles away from her other daughter’s home, where she was due the day she vanished. So far, leads have been “fickle,” said Angela Martin, her daughter.

“My mother has great-grandkids she has yet to meet,” Angela Martin said. “She is loving and caring, the most genuine individual you will ever meet. It’s time for us to find her and bring her home.”

The initiative will also receive help from people who helped locate living victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who were thought to be missing.

For more information on the initiative or to provide tips about the cases, visit the sherrif’s website, call 773-674-9490 or email

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