State and local police and authorities from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office no doubt are struggling to withstand the inevitable let-down that comes from a lengthy investigation. Forget about the first two days being critical; when a murder begins to recede into the past beyond a year, there can be no doubt that the original rush is fading fast. Picture a competent, resourceful investigator such as Detective Steve Rowland of the New Hampshire State Police simply running out of new information and, with limited resources stretching his department to its limit, finding a new case dropped on his desk. Under no circumstances would a man of the caliber of Rowland allow his concentration of the Stacey Burns murder to be compromised. When the possibility that this case might reach the nebulous “cold case” category is mentioned, the detective bristles.
“As long as I’m around, I will not give up on this case,” he says.
In 2009, the State of New Hampshire received a federal grant to establish a cold case division as part of the New Hampshire State Police Department’s Major Crime Division. Two detectives are currently working in that division, dealing with approximately one hundred cases dating back to the early sixties. Obviously, given Steve Rowland’s tenacity, Stacey Burns’ case will never be referred to as a cold case.
Cases that he is working fall into a category of “unsolved,” a classification which he says better describes what he does. Detective Rowland explains his definition of a cold case as being one in which there is “absolutely nothing else that investigators can do” adding for emphasis again that his cases are not close to being classified like this. In a candid moment, Rowland spoke about one of his most effective instructors during his training for becoming a part of the major crimes division of the New Hampshire State Police.
“I am the voice of the victim,” the detective says, explaining further that his instructor emphasized that clearly the victims have no voice, obviously being unable to speak for themselves.