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criminology because even when I was younger, I was always infatuated with true crime stories in the news.”
Soon after this decision, a family friend informed Wilkes about the GBI internship program, suggesting she apply for the experience. She did just that, and completed her internship at the GBI Region 4 office in Douglas, as she said at the conclusion of that experience, she knew she wanted to work for the GBI.
Unfortunately, at the time of Wilkes’s graduation from college, the GBI was on a hiring freeze, and had not hired any new agents in around 5 years. Realizing that it may be a while before she was able to become a GBI agent, Wilkes paid to put herself through the Police Academy in Tifton, and later became a member of the now disbanded Altamaha Drug Task Force, where she spent her days working undercover to capture those who dealt with illegal substances.
Yet, in 2011, Wilkes’s dreams came true, as she was hired with the GBI as a crime scene specialist. Since then, Wilkes has responded to several hundreds of crime scenes – for everything from aggravated assaults to homicides.
During her time as a crime scene specialist, Wilkes revisited cold cases quarterly during meetings at her local field office, as she emphasized that cold cases are continuously worked on – in fact, these quarterly meetings regarding the cold cases are required so that details, such as new tests or leads, may be discussed with supervisors.
Throughout these experiences dealing with cold cases, Wilkes developed a passion for them. Thus, when the new GBI Cold Case Unit was created when Governor Brian Kemp signed the Coleman- Baker Act — named for the notorious unsolved murders of Rhonda Sue Coleman, who was found in Montgomery County, and Tara Louise Baker, who was found in Clarke County – Wilkes knew she had to apply for the job.
She was granted the position, and is now ecstatic to work in this capacity, as she actively investigates cold cases within the area.
About the Cold Case Unit The Cold Case Unit allows individuals to apply for the full reinvestigation of cold case murders previously investigated by the GBI that have been inactive for at least three years.
To be eligible for this full reinvestigation, the cases must have occurred on or before January 1, 1970, been previously investigated by an agency, and remain unsolved or without determination of a likely perpetrator.
After receiving the application for reinvestigation of a case from the victim’s immediate family or designated applicant, the head of the agency who previously investigated the case will review it to determine if reinvestigation could bring identification of probative investigative leads or the determination of a likely suspect.
Some aspects of the case that may be reviewed are: if details or aspects may have been missed in the previous investigation; if all appropriate forensic tests were done on the physical evidence; if additional testing should be done on the physical evidence; if witnesses should be reinterviewed. Also, agents will update the data with the most current investigative standards to see the extent that it would help to develop probative leads.