STOCKTON (CBS13) — The San Joaquin County Sheriff wants to reopen hundreds of cold cases, giving many families new hope for justice.
The department started a new cold case unit that hopes advanced-DNA testing will bring families the answers they have waited for.
Anwar “Andy” Machiwalla was a father and beloved corner store owner in Stockton. In July 2016, he was shot and killed while attending to customers inside his store on a busy day. The suspect was never caught.
“It was his birthday, he was at work, he loved being at work. My mom was preparing his birthday dinner for him,” said Alia Machiwalla, Anwar’s daughter.
Alia Machiwalla never thought this would be her life — a life coping with the anxiety of a cold case.
“It’s not easy to be in Stockton anymore. To look around and see these people and wonder and wonder, could it be you? Could it be you?” she said.
She now lives in San Jose and has been hoping for an opportunity to get answers.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office started the cold case unit even amid struggles with staffing. Families will be able to submit their unsolved cases to the department online. Detectives are also planning to create a database where people can find cold case information online.
“It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of cases,” said Sandra Mendez, a spokesperson for the department.
Mendez said detectives are dealing with more than 400 cases involving not just murders, but missing people and unidentified remains. She said every case is important, but some are more likely to be solved than others.
“If we have a case that has a lot of information in it already, that they possibly have a suspect but they need something to actually convict that person, they’re going to focus on that one,” Mendez said.
This new unit will use advanced DNA testing to track down suspects, the same that led to the arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer.
“Not everyone is going to be wanting to open old wounds, we know that,” Mendez said.
Alia Machiwalla believes someone knows something about her dad and she wants to find out.
“If the outcome doesn’t work out for us as far as figuring out who it is that’s ok, but I wouldn’t feel right not trying,” she said.