The College of Saint Rose held a news conference on Friday unveiling their new Cold Case Analysis Center, the first of its kind in the state and only one of a half dozen centers like it across the country.
Students enrolled in the one-year internship at The Cold Case Analysis Center will be led by Dr. Christina Lane, associate professor of criminal justice. The program allows interns to learn in an applied setting and to provide practical assistance to law enforcement, the families of missing and murdered loved ones and their communities.
Selected students must have prior education in investigation at Saint Rose, be in excellent academic standing and must sign non-disclosure agreements that prohibit them from discussing the work being done at the center. Dr. Lane says the primary focus of the center is to make a difference.
The main case they are currently working on, is the disappearance of Suzanne Lyall. A University of Albany Student who went missing on March 2, 1998.
Dr. Lane said Suzanne's mother Mary Lyall has been a partner of The Cold Case Analysis Center since the very beginning.
"She has gracefully opened her personal books on Suzanne's case to the students of The Center and our case consultants."
Although the center has only been open for two months, Dr. Lane said the students have already found some new information.
"They have gone over 20 years of Facebook posts, they have read interviews, they also have a large database of the case and mapping out who Suzy knew, who people who were close to her knew, and then taking from there what gaps we have and then we can find more information."
Mary Lyall, who has been instrumental in missing persons cases across the country, also spoke at the news conference. Along with her late husband Doug, Mary is the co-founder of The Center for Hope which provides support and first hand advice to families of missing persons.
In addition to the work The Center for Hope does, Mary and Doug have been the driving force for multiple local, state, and national initiatives and legislation.
They consulted with New York officials to create, "The Investigative Guide for Missing College Students" and collaborated with law enforcement to pen, "What to Do If a Loved One Goes Missing: A Guide for Left Behind Family Members."
In 2000 the New York State Campus Security Act was signed by Gov. George Pataki, which requires all colleges to develop plans for investigating a missing student or violent offence committed on campus.
In 2003, President George W. Bush signed "Suzanne's Law," which eliminated the waiting period for law enforcement to launch an investigation when a person between the ages of 18 and 21 goes missing.
In 2007, Congress enacted the Suzanne Lyall Campus Security Act, which requires colleges across the country to have written plans on how they will work with local law enforcement agencies.
The Center for Hope also helped create the state's Missing Persons Day, an annual ceremony held in April, and the Missing Persons Remembrance Monument in Albany.
Another initiative she brought to the state, was the distribution of Cold Case playing cards to prisoners in all 57 county jails across New York. In total they have gone through 30,000 decks of playing cards. She also partnered with Senator Jim Tedisco to distribute 55,000 cold case drink coaster to Capital Region restaurants.
Although Mary is a vocal advocate for missing persons, she wasn't always that way. She said it took five years to be able to speak publicly about Suzanne. It wasn't until a conference held in Saratoga for law enforcement and lawyers that she was ready to speak. It was the same day that President Bush signed "Suzanne's Law."
"At the end, there were over 200 people in there, there was not a dry in the place. After that, I find it very easy to stand in front of groups of people and talk."
Saint Rose President Carolyn J. Stefanco and New York State Senator Jim Tedisco also spoke at the news conference.