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Authentic stories take many forms and not all are positive. Stories are a reflection of the communities we live in and crimes – among them solved and unsolved homicides – are unfortunately part of our communities. Alice de Sturler runs the unsolved homicides site Defrosting Cold Cases and answered a few questions for us to share the stories behind her site.
Question: Why did you set up this site?
Alice: I started the blog “Defrosting Cold Cases” to make sure that the victims of unsolved homicides were not forgotten. Just because we have not solved their murders yet does not mean that we can forget about them. And we do. Not intentionally, of course. We are not cruel. However, really old cold cases are not breaking news anymore. Once the media senses that police do not have any updates they stop reporting. They move on to the next cold case. That is understandable. I want to help by keeping these cases on my blog sorted in a cases list so they are permanently in the spotlights!
Question: Once you knew you wanted to launch this site, how did you get it started?
Alice: I spoke to an old friend, Jacques Soudan, about my idea. I complained that I would not be able to pull it off because I am tech-challenged. He walked me through WordPress and offered to help. I bought the domain name, he built the blog, became my webmaster, and we have been in this since 2009.
Question: Why the passion about this topic?
Alice: Simple: justice. I am a former human rights defender for Amnesty International Switzerland!
The case of William Thomas Zeigler has reached the eReader community because I wrote an eBook about his case.
My posts about Richard Lapointe have made this case more accessible to the public as well. Now there is more understanding why this disabled man deserves a new trial. As of this writing, the Connecticut Supreme Court has not made a decision yet.
Question: How do you get information for older cases?
Alice: Internet searches, Google Alerts, and family members who send me digital copies of newspaper clippings.
Question: Any tips you can offer for others who are considering setting up a similar site?
Alice: a) ask yourself what you want to do. There are so many cold cases out there. It is impossible for one blogger to report about all of them. You need to select an area (e.g. continent, country, or just part of a state) or a specific type of case you wish to focus on (e.g. the missing, the unidentified, unsolved murders, etc.)
b) set time aside in your weekly planner to read. Before you can blog about a cold case you need to read a lot, search for updates, read comments on other people’s blogs or, under newspaper articles, etc. It is time consuming so do not just set aside time to blog. Set aside time to read first!
c) immediately start with a cases index. I neglected that and had to catch up later making a cases list in alphabetical order. Much easier to do if you start with this from day one.
d)use social media to share your blog posts. One tip: you cannot expect others to share your blog posts if you never share theirs. It is a two-way street so comment on other blogs, share, link, retweet, etc.
e) never pressure victim family members, their close friends or, the cops to talk to you. Once they find your blog and see that you are a serious blogger, they will approach you when they are ready. It has to be their pace.
Question: Any other thoughts?
Alice: Looks matter so keep clutter away from your blog. If you are serious about cold case blogging than your theme should be focused on writing and being eye-friendly. Light colors, no flashing roll overs, and no pop-ups. Lastly, please use columns so your text is not screen-wide. Thanks for talking to me. If your readers have any other questions, they can reach me here.