Meet the man behind the recent Topeka homicide cold case discoveries

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Patrick McLaughlin has been Shawnee County’s first cold case homicide investigator for about a year, and he is not taking the position lightly.

Last week, he found alleged killers in both a 2016 triple homicide and a 2017 murder, and his work has only just begun.

“Families deserve justice for family members who have been murdered in the past, and I think a lot of times, sometimes, people think their cases are forgotten,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin was a Topeka police officer for 24 years prior to taking this position.

“He described to me how sometimes in his downtime, when he was over at TPD, he would actually go and pull cold cases and review them because he had an interest in that,” Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said.

Cold case homicides have always been McLaughlin’s passion, which is what led Kagay to appoint him in this new position.

With the new title McLaughlin looks into homicide cases in Shawnee County that have turned cold, a total of about 40 since 2000.

On Sept. 28, McLaughlin helped Kagay file charges for the 2016 triple homicide of Dominique Ray, Camrah Trotter, and her unborn child. That same week, on Oct. 1, he helped make an arrest happen in the 2017 murder of Kianna Hodge.

“It was an emotional moment, that when they’re able to tell them that an arrest has been made in the case,” McLaughlin said of when he informed Hodge’s family.

When McLaughlin gets a new case, he looks it over to see if there is any new evidence that may have fallen through the cracks, and if they need to use today’s technology like DNA testing or cell phone data, to find out more. From there, he makes decisions on who to interview.

However, the biggest leaps he makes in cases are when people come forward.

“There are a lot of cases that could be solved in a very short amount of time if the right person, who knows the right information, comes forward,” McLaughlin said.

As of Monday, McLaughlin is working on the homicide of John Waller from 2019, and the disappearance of Lori Freitas in 2014.

Anyone who knows anything about these two cases should come forward, McLaughlin asked.

“It’s difficult, and challenging, and we understand why people are hesitant to do that,” McLaughlin said. “We live in a community and this is how we make our community better is we just have to stand up and start saying things.”

McLaughlin can be reached by emailing patrick.mclaughlin@snco.us or calling (785) 217-8487.

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