SLO County Sheriff will request funds for a 'cold case' detective



After county officials rejected his request last year, SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson plans to take a second shot at asking for a detective to work the county’s unsolved homicides. 

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla confirmed that Parkinson will once again ask the county to fund a full-time detective to solely concentrate on the department’s “cold” cases for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

The $178,787 cost for the position will remain unchanged from a request Parkinson made prior to the SLO County Board of Supervisors approval of the 2015-2016 budget. Parkinson championed the benefits of having a detective who would focus exclusively on unsolved cases, but county staff recommended denying Parkinson’s request, and supervisors took them up on that suggestion, funding other items for the department instead, including adding additional deputies to North SLO County and new staff positions for the women’s jail.

Plans to make the request once again came to light after multiple individuals called for the SLO County Board of Supervisors to support it during the public comment period at an April 5 regular meeting. Many of those speakers referred to SLO County’s most high-profile cold case: the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. She went missing in May 1996 and was declared legally dead in 2002, though her body was never found. This May will mark the 20th anniversary of Smart’s disappearance.

“Think about 20 years of not knowing where your child is,” SLO County resident Ann Sensibaugh said. “Please help. Please give the funding needed.”

While Smart’s case is the most well known, it’s not the only cold case in SLO County. According to previous New Times reports, the Sheriff’s Office has at least five other unsolved homicides that are several years old. Those include the stabbing death of field worker Victor Juardo Cruz in 2001, the shooting death of 42-year-old Alvaro Duenas in 2004, and the murder of 71-year-old Templeton resident Jerry Greer in 2009, among others.

In an email statement provided by Cipolla to New Times, Parkinson seemed confident that the position would be funded this time around.

“Our expectation is that county administration will recommend to approve to the Board of Supervisors,” Parkinson stated. “The board will ultimately decide, and we have high hopes they will approve our request.” 

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