How One Police Officer Solved Eight Cold Cases in His Spare Time

‘Badass Detective’: Matt Hutchinson is a curious and determined Bay Area detective with a knack for solving decades-long cold cases in his free time. In the seven years Hutchinson has been part of the robbery-homicide unit at the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, he has solved eight cold cases—six homicides and two sexual assaults. Thinking out of the box, and also using today’s DNA testing and crime-solving tools, he has solved more cold cases in three years than any single detective in the last 15, and in the process has helped to bring peace and closure to some of the victims’ surviving family members. Not bad for someone off the clock.

Scott Ostler writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Hutchison wore the trash company’s jumpsuit, cap and reflective vest, and he sported a few days of beard stubble. He was collecting trash hoping to find something valuable: the DNA of a person who might prove to be a suspect in the sexual assault and murder of an 18-year-old security guard in Sunnyvale in 1969. It was a cold case, and this was an expensive long shot. But his bosses in Sunnyvale and at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office have learned that when Hutchison has a plan, you listen. In the seven years since he moved into robbery-homicide, the 38-year-old detective has solved eight cold cases — six homicides and two sexual assaults. In his spare time.”

So in March, Hutchison contacted Marta Mena-Gordon, who was 9 years old when her big sister was murdered. He told her he was digging back into the case, then followed up with updates. Mena-Gordon welcomed the reports. “When he would call, his voice, he just has this very sincere voice,” Mena-Gordon said. “It was like, OK, he brought us some hope. It devastated my father and mother not knowing anything.”

In early October, Hutchison flew to Portland to meet with Mena-Gordon. He was able to tell her that the case had been solved and closed, and although her sister’s killer was dead, they knew who he was. “It was quite a moment, definitely,” Mena-Gordon said. “So many emotions. Lots of happy tears.”

Read the whole story in SF Chronicle >