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Continuing to look for answers in unsolved crimes

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jul 10, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Bakersfield and Kern County in recent years continue to push for new ways to solve crimes.

  • Video shows the Kern County Regional Crime Lab, which continues to make innovative efforts to solve crimes.
  • Detective John Billdt has been in law enforcement for 23 years, the last five as a detective in Bakersfield Police’s cold case unit.
  • For Billdt, each new unsolved homicide that comes to his desk is a new opportunity, especially given the innovations made in DNA technology.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misnamed Detective John Billdt. It has been corrected.

Detective John Billdt has been in law enforcement for 23 years, the last five as a detective in Bakersfield Police’s cold case unit.

“Oldest [case] is probably currently from the eighties,” Billdt said. “Fresh eyes looking at an investigation, we may see something that was missed and follow up in those areas."

For Billdt, each new unsolved homicide that comes to his desk is a new opportunity, especially given the innovations made in DNA technology.

“Back when DNA was first starting to be tested it took a lot of DNA in order to make that happen," he said. "Now, it's a smaller and smaller quality.”

Bakersfield and Kern County in recent years continue to push for new ways to solve crimes.

In January, Kern became the first in the country to use Next Generation Sequencing DNA testing as evidence in a trial, leading to a conviction. The case: two homeless women killed months apart. Thanks to the Kern County Regional Crime Lab, investigators were able to link the same man — Adrian Chavez — to both scenes by testing 152 genetic markers, compared to the usual 24.

“Even five years ago when I started we may not have been able to find anything and today that’s possible,” Billdt said.

In one of his oldest cases, Billdt is currently waiting for test results taken from touch DNA on an article of clothing.

“We’re hoping," he said. "It always seems, and I can understand why victims families think oh it went to cold case it’s probably closed now. It’s never closed, even 20, 30 years later."

If you have any information about any unsolved homicides in Bakersfield, you’re asked to call (661) 326-3921 or you can contact secret witness at (661) 322-4040.


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