Several employees of the Cape Girardeau Police Department serve on the Cape Girardeau/Bollinger County Major Case Squad in addition to their positions within the Department. The Major Case Squad was initiated in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when Cape Girardeau County was plagued with a series of murders, including the murders of Margie Call, Mildred Wallace, Debbie Martin, and the double-murder of Brenda Parsh and her mother, Mary Parsh. The homicides of Margie Call, Mildred Wallace, Sheila Cole, Brenda Parsh and Mary Parsh remained unsolved until December, 10, 2007 when formal charges were filed against Timothy W. Krajcir.
The homicide of Debbie Martin remained unsolved until April 2009 when Max Ellison, Jr. was charged with her murder which occurred in September, 1979. Ms. Martin was found dead in her place of business, the Mother Earth Antique and Gift Store, located at 605 Broadway. Her body was found underneath the balcony near the staircase inside the business. Our investigation at the time suggested Ms. Martin had been beaten and then pushed or thrown over the balcony. Ellison was bound over for trial in a preliminary hearing in May, however, he died in August of 2009 before his scheduled trial date. Ellison had been in Federal prison on unrelated charges most of his adult life and had been out for about a year before he was arrested for the Martin murder.
In response to the problem, law enforcement officials joined together in 1983 to form the Cape Girardeau County Major Case Squad. The Squad combines the best criminal investigators from all local law enforcement agencies into one organized unit. Understanding that most homicides must be solved within the first few hours or they may not be solved at all, the Major Case Squad allows local law enforcement agencies to pool investigative resources and manpower in an efficient and effective manner to provide the type of saturation investigation often essential in solving major crimes.
Since its inception, the Major Case Squad has solved a phenomenal 93% (41 of 44) of its cases.
The original agencies participating in the Major Case Squad were:
Cape Girardeau Police Department
Jackson Police Department
Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office
Missouri Highway Patrol
In 1986 the Bollinger County Sheriff’s Department was added to the Squad and the Squad's jurisdiction was extended into Bollinger County. In 1988 the Department of Public Safety from Southeast Missouri State University was added to the Squad.
The Major Case Squad is governed by written bylaws. One of the most important requires that a request to activate the Squad must be made by the investigative agency within 8 hours of the discovery of the crime. The purpose of the Major Case Squad is to provide a large number of officers to investigate all leads immediately. If a department fails to contact the Major Case Squad within 8 hours the Squad will not become involved in the investigation.
All law enforcement officials in Cape Girardeau County agree that the formation of the Major Case Squad was the best thing to happen to law enforcement in Southeast Missouri in many decades. Although the personnel has changed over the years, the Major Case Squad continues to reflect the best and the brightest criminal investigators in Southeast Missouri.