Winston-Salem police take new approach to solve cold-case homicides

WINSTON-SALEM, NC. -- There have been 60 homicides in the city of Winston-Salem since the beginning of 2015, and to date, 15 remain unsolved. On Wednesday, Winston-Salem police changed how they’re highlighting the cases in a search for answers.

“It has been productive,” said Lt. Michael Cardwell, of videos the department has released regarding unsolved homicides in the past. “It does help us. It’s important that the community continues to reach out to us with information when they have it. It’s important for us to solve those cases, it’s important for the family, important for the community we solve them.”

In recent years, the department would compile videos with the help of the city’s communications department, detailing multiple unsolved homicides at a time. However, they are now creating videos which feature one homicide at a time. At their monthly public safety news conference, they released the first video, which focused on the unsolved homicide of Walter Lee Odom, who was 66 years old when he was found dead in his home on Hemlock Drive.

Officers say they responded to the home on July 31, 2016, after a resident of the home returned to find bullet holes in windows of the house. When officers arrived, they found evidence that a rifle had been used to discharge multiple rounds into the residence. When they went inside, they found Odom’s body. It’s believed that Odom was killed on Saturday, July 30.

“It felt really weird. It felt like something out of a cop movie,” said Greg Williams, Odom’s neighbor, of the day he learned Odom had been killed.

The video features testimony from an investigating officer, as well as photographs of evidence which had not been previously released.

“I used to pass, walking up the street, he was always [speaking], have good conversation for you, always had a joke for you,” Williams said, of Odom.

Officers hope releasing the videos will persuade people with details about unsolved homicides like Odom’s to help bring the cases to a close.