GRANGEVILLE - Cold cases may remain stagnant for years - perhaps forever - but compiling all the known data into a national website always leaves open the possibility that someday a case may be cracked.
Case in point: On April 4, 1994, C. Bruce and Lynn T. Peeples were found dead at their Grangeville residence; the victims of torture and murder.
Smoke had been spotted coming from the house and the Grangeville volunteer fire department responded, breaking into the house to extinguish the fire, which was mostly just smoke.
During the search of the house firefighters found the Peeples' bodies in a back bedroom. They were lying face down on the floor, their bodies covered with soot. They had been beaten, tortured and strangled to death.
An investigation revealed someone had piled shredded paper throughout the house and ignited it with candles to start a fire.
But because all the windows were closed the fire only smoldered.
Bruce Peeples was a man of small stature with a boisterous personality and had operated Uncle's Pawn Shop on Main Street. His wife, Lynn, was known as a quiet, sweet person. Peeples' business dealings were rumored to be suspicious and he had been under investigation by state and federal wildlife officers trying to determine whether he had ties to the illegal marketing of exotic animal artifacts.
Five months before his death the pawn shop had started on fire and burned to the ground. That incident also was considered suspicious, although nothing criminal was ever proven.
According to a police report, Peeples was having some business problems at the time of his death and had filed several lawsuits that were pending in 2nd District Court.
From the beginning investigators had a primary suspect in mind in the murder case. Evidence was sorted through and people were interviewed but no arrests were ever made. Eventually the suspect moved away.
Detective Jerry Johnson with the Idaho County Sheriff's Office said the case has been inactive for several years and no one has inquired about it - including any of the couple's relatives. Johnson did not know where the relatives could be located.
But since taking over the detective position at the sheriff's office Johnson has been compiling all the known information about the case and submitted it to a federal database.
"My main goal was to get this federal database updated on unidentified and missing persons, so now anybody can look them up," Johnson said.
That task is largely completed and Johnson said periodically he pulls those cases and takes a look at them to see if any new information or reports have been added.
In the Peeples case: nothing.
Johnson said he would love to have a lead on the case, "but even when somebody is just missing - where we don't suspect foul play - we don't forget those people. We keep kind of looking at how things are going, what other information do we need in the hopes that someday somebody will stumble across some remains and give the families some closure."
Hedberg may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 983-2326.