CMPD partners with nonprofit to help solve cold cases

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has announced a new partnership to help solve cold cases.

The department is working with the North Carolina Unidentified Project, a group that helps departments pay for the advanced forensic technology needed to identify victims.

Channel 9 learned the partnership is already paying off. CMPD said Tuesday morning that they were able to confirm remains found in north Charlotte 13 years ago as Napoleon McNeil.

Officials said McNeil was reported missing in Raleigh back in 2009, and investigators didn’t originally consider that the remains were McNeil’s because he had no connections to Charlotte.

“Prior to forensic genetic genealogy, we had to rely on reports to make educated guesses to go out and find family members to potentially link our victims to. And this tool has really just opened that up and allowed us to proactively go out and try to find out who these people are,” Bryan Crum said.

The new DNA technology could also help bring peace and closure to some families after years of searching for loved ones, like the Maxwells.

Rita Maxwell disappeared in 1992, as did Devonne Dubose. They are two of the oldest missing person cases on the books in Charlotte.

“The pain I’ve felt as a child, I’ve always felt abandoned,” said Maxwell’s daughter April Maxwell, who was 9 years old when her mother went missing. “I believe through technology, the year being 2022 technology and all the improvements, that we could get an answer.”

CMPD said there are currently 11 sets of unidentified human remains in Mecklenburg County, but they don’t believe Maxwell is among them. The question of whether Maxwell and Dubose dead is one that has haunted their families for almost 30 years.

“In my heart of hearts, I don’t feel like she’s with us. I just want an answer to where what happened to her. I just want to put my mother to rest,” April said.

April’s daughter, Ajourie, hopes that one day she will meet her grandmother.

“I think she’s still alive. I’ve always told my mom I think she’s still alive and there is no point of giving up,” she said.

Across the state, there are 130 unidentified remains and there are thousands more across the country, so there is a big need for the new DNA technology.

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