GONE COLD | Charlie 4: Cold but not forgotten

Inside the cold case files: From a hot 48 hours to a cold 45 years later, fresh-eyed, retired volunteer investigators open Cobb County's dustiest files and finally put some of its most heinous killers and rapists behind bars—putting the lid on the case file for good.

The unforgotten

MARIETTA, Ga. – Nestled inside the Cobb County Superior Courthouse is a modest room in the back corner of the second floor. The walls are lined with framed accolades, inspirational quotes and box after box stacked to the ceiling, filled with cold case files. It's where the forgotten are remembered, questions are answered and cases are finally solved.

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“My drive, the reason I wake up in the morning ready to go, is because every case that we have in here represents a family that needs an answer,” said John Dawes, director and lead detective of the Cobb County Cold Case Unit, aka "Charlie 4."

In Cobb County, Ga., there are more than 90 cold cases sitting on those shelves, waiting to be solved—the oldest dating back to 1972. To some, it may seem like a daunting, unforgiving task, too mountainous to fathom completing.

Not for these detectives.

Digging deep, solving cases… it’s in their blood. It’s a part of who they are. It’s a calling they cannot deny—even after retirement.

The unit, created by Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds, is made up of a tight-knit group of about a half-dozen detectives. But they aren’t necessarily spring chickens—all retired from law enforcement or the military. They still have a fire inside of them that can match any rookie investigator and then some—and they double down with decades of experience nabbing the “bad guys” off the streets.

Cobb County Cold Case Unit (Jessica Noll / WXIA)

Above them on the third floor, is Reynolds, who’s prosecuting the cases they’re cracking—some decades later.

“They do it because of a passion and a dedication in making sure that these victims' families figure out and understand and know what happened to their loved one, and primarily to make sure that the people who commit these crimes are eventually brought to justice,” Reynolds said.

One of those families once tucked inside a cold case file box is the Castlins’ story.