Formation of Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit Provides Support for 19k Unsolved Homicides

photo of Durango from a crime scene
Crime scene photo of Dodge Durango provided in press packet

Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit Has Been Assisting Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office in case of Thomas Brown

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the formation of the new Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit within the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). This Unit will aid and support law enforcement agencies across the state in the investigation and prosecution of unsolved cases, including homicides, missing persons, and other matters centered around human identification and forensic genealogy. The Attorney General envisions that the new unit will provide much-needed support for the approximately 19,207 unsolved homicide cases in Texas.

The Unit’s first case was the result of a request for assistance from the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office in the case of Thomas Brown of Canadian, Texas. OAG’s Criminal Investigations Unit assisted in the investigation of Mr. Brown’s death and also assisted the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit in reviewing all of the collected evidence. The Unit engaged independent experts to identify any further leads that could be developed.

As of today, this case remains a questionable death investigation without sufficient evidence to attribute Tom Brown’s death to a criminal act, an accidental death, or a suicide; therefore, this case will be suspended until such time as additional reliable evidence has been discovered. A suspended case is still considered an open case and no other documents outside of the press packet will be released at this time

“The Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit will bring cases that have been left behind – whether that is due to limited resources or insufficient funding – and bring them back into the light,” said Attorney General Paxton. “This unit is a first step in getting closure for many families across our state. I look forward to the unit sharing its expertise with local law enforcement to provide investigative assistance and opportunities for training and science education.”

Like other law enforcement agencies, the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit does not comment on open investigations. But due to significant interest from the public and media, the OAG has made a media packet available regarding the Thomas Brown case. The OAG further requests that anyone with information about Mr. Brown’s death immediately report that information to law enforcement authorities.

AG’s office shared this information, Investigative Actions Taken by the Office of the Attorney General from February 2018 to October 2021:

  • Total Number of Items Submitted for Forensic Testing and/or Analysis: 35
  • Total Number of Witnesses Contacted or Interviewed: 71 individuals on at least 99 separate occasions
  • Total Number of Polygraphs Conducted: 9
  • Total Number of Formal Searches Conducted: 9
  • Total Number of Search Warrants and Subpoenas Issued: 150
  • Total Number of Trips to Canadian, Texas: 9