Group 6, a detective agency made up of former El Paso County investigators, plans to focus on unsolved homicides for paying clients. They hope to make a dent in the hundreds of unsolved murders that have lingered in the hands of police across the state, including at least 76 in Colorado Springs.
"We don't want these families to feel their case is left open," said Tim Shull, a Group 6 partner and former bureau chief for the sheriff's office.
The agency also includes Bobby Brown and Stephen Pease, both former county detectives. The company, Group 6, is named after the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."
The three gumshoes enter a market filled with families frustrated that cases have lingered years, even decades, without being solved.
Howard Morton, executive director of the nonprofit Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons Inc., praised the agency but said it was yet another indication the state needs to create specialized units to investigate and solve cold cases.
"I think (Group 6) is well motivated and I think it's an excellent idea," Morton said. "But there are so many people who cannot afford to pay a private investigator."
Morton's group told Gov. Bill Owens of its idea for such units in December, but never received a response.
Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the investigators will fare any better than police.
The private eyes, for example, won't have access to police files.
"Obviously we're going to have to cooperate with law enforcement, but we don't know how it is going to go," Shull said.
Yet he is hopeful witnesses who wouldn't speak with police will be more willing to tell their stories to a private eye.
"It's sad to say, but in this day and age, a lot of people don't want to deal with the police."
-- Michael de Yoanna