LA MESA (CBS 8) - The San Diego Sheriff's Department has a valuable new resource among its ranks: a federal NCIS agent.
This additional resource means access to military information that was previously hard to come by could help close the book on more cold cases.
"It doesn't matter how old the case is or who the victim was or who the suspect was: each of these cases deserves justice, each of these victims deserves justice," said special agent Jeff Kierman.
The federal agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS, investigates felony crimes that have some connection to the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps.
Kierman was recently assigned as a full-time agent with the San Diego Sheriff's Homicide unit, focusing on cold cases.
"Having an NCIS agent here is a godsend," said Detective Ritchie Hann.
A godsend, because according to homicide investigators, Kierman's background, contacts and specialized knowledge of the military offer the Sheriff's Department an edge that could prove crucial in cracking cases.
"He has a lot of resources that we may not be able to have immediately," said Sgt. Roy Frank.
"This isn't somebody who's coming over to the unit to gain experience," he added. "He came over with that. He hit these cases, he's running with these cases, and I expect him to solve some of these cases, and I know he will."
One of those still-unsolved mysteries is the stabbing murder of 26-year-old Yolanda Griffie at the top of Mt. Helix Park in March 1980.
The sailor's wife, whose husband had been deployed at the time, had been hanging out near the park's amphitheater on a Friday night.
The next morning, joggers discovered her bloody corpse.
"Suspects were developed, witnesses were developed," said Kierman. "A lot of the witnesses had ties to the U.S. Navy."
And that's where Kierman's NCIS training and experience could play a pivotal role.
"Just the ease of finding the people that needed to be spoken to," Kierman added. "Finding the records, getting any information that is 'behind the blue line,' anything on the actual military bases."
While over the last three decades, more than a hundred witness interviews have been conducted and dozens of pieces of evidence were collected, no arrest was ever made. But these detectives believe it's only a matter of time.
One of the more unusual aspects of this particular cold case is that the crime scene itself hasn't really changed much over the past three decades: a benefit to investigators.
"When this finally does go to trial, we'll take a jury through and show them," Kierman said. "This is exactly how it looked the day this horrible thing happened."
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