SAVANNAH, Ga. — Roy Willis, who spent a career investigating crime scenes, says he’s “not built for retirement.”

That’s why, at age 77, he’s heading back to work.

Starting late last month, Willis and a handful of other retired investigators took new oaths for a tough new assignment — cracking Savannah’s long list of unsolved homicide cases.

The list includes 97 open cases since 2004, when the old Savannah and Chatham County police departments merged into the combined agency that operates today, The Savannah Morning News reported (

There are also unsolved homicides in paper records dating back to the 1960s, though it wasn’t known exactly how many, the newspaper reported.

The cold case unit will begin reviewing cases that were opened as recently as last year and work backward, said Lt. David Barefield, the detective in charge of the unit. The unit will review every unsolved, open homicide case it has, “and it’s not really going to be pick-and-choose,” he said.

“We’re going to go through every single case. We’re going to review every single file. We’re going to review every single lead,” Barefield said.

Brenda Johnson is one of the many people in Savannah whose life was thrust into tumult because of an act of violence. Her son, 38-year-old Ricardo Morris, was shot and killed one year ago, and his homicide case remains unsolved. Morris, a father of eight children, was found dead on LaRoche Avenue in the wee hours of July 11, 2015, and an SUV he had been driving was discovered abandoned and burned miles away in Garden City.

“I cry every day,” Johnson said. “I miss my son every day. His children miss him. His brothers miss him. His aunts and uncles – he’s missed. No one knows how it feels. His 5-year-old daughter just yesterday asked me, ‘Grandma, do you still think about my daddy? Do you think they’ll ever find who killed my daddy?’ And I said, ‘Yes we will, because we’re never going to stop looking.'”

Greg Corwin’s son, Scott, was killed 12 years ago in downtown Savannah. Scott, a 27-year-old captain in the Army, was walking through Monterey Square with his girlfriend early May 29, 2004, when he was shot to death by an unknown assailant.

At first, Greg Corwin started visiting Savannah annually to hold news conferences in an effort to find his son’s killer. He even appeared on national television to highlight the case. But nothing worked.

But about a month ago, an assistant district attorney called Corwin to tell him about the cold case squad, he said.

“I was delighted to hear it after 12 years,” Greg Corwin said.

Information from: Savannah Morning News,

VIAThe Associated Press
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.