Washington County's new cold case detective gets to work
Cold cases in Washington County could thaw out under a new law enforcement partnership.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett swore in Detective Kevin Winfield, who will be assigned to the Washington County District Attorney's Office to re-examine unsolved violent crime cases involving DNA evidence associated with a possible suspect.
The position is funded by a $470,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance that was awarded to the District Attorney's Office last year.
A cold case is defined as a case three or more years old that is not under active investigation.
The District Attorney's Office recently conducted a review of all major cold cases as part of the grant, officials said when they announced the grant last year.
Multiple cases were identified as having the potential to be prosecuted with additional investigation, officials said, adding the cases date back to 1968 and several of them contain DNA evidence.
Additionally, there are potentially hundreds of unsolved sexual assault cases that also contain DNA evidence, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Winfield has more than 20 years of investigative experience, officials said.
He has worked in law enforcement in Oregon for 30 years, spending nearly 28 years with the Tualatin Police Department, state records show. He was recognized as Tualatin's city employee of the year in 2010, in part for his response to a shooting at a clinic in 2009.
Winfield was also one of several officers from the Washington County Tactical Negotiation Team who responded in 2019 after a man stole two guns from a safe outside a home in Gaston and then went into the woods near Henry Hagg Lake, firing on law enforcement officers dispatched to search for him. Two officers were shot during the incident.
"We are excited to welcome Detective Winfield as our first dedicated cold case detective," said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton in a statement. "While these cases may be labeled 'cold cases,' to the victims and their families, they are just as real and important today as they were when the crime occurred many years ago. This new position is an effort to ensuring these cases remain a top priority."
Garrett said in a statement he was grateful the District Attorney's Office acquired the funding for the position.
"The hope to resolve cases that include lives lost due to homicidal violence elevates the voices of our community's victims and provides a measure of hope for their family and friends," Garrett said. "My sincere thanks to Detective Winfield as well for his devotion to these important cases."
One cold case the District Attorney's Office highlighted was the murder of Loni Okaruru, a transgender woman found murdered in Hillsboro in 2001. It's one of the cases that will be investigated again as part of the grant.
In addition to Winfield's position, the grant will also allow for the hiring of a forensic consultant.
The two positions will work with a prosecutor and victim advocate to form a Violent Crime Cold Case Multidisciplinary Team, the District Attorney's Office said.
The team will work together to solve and prosecute violent crime cold cases in Washington County in partnership with existing resources, including the Washington County Major Crimes Team.
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