A Look Back at 20 Years of Special Crimes

20 homicides have been confirmed so far this year... And every one is worked by the Amarillo Special Crimes unit.

20 years ago Newschannel 10 highlighted the unit when they were first beginning.. Tonight Alex Tomlin is taking us back to the early days and looks at how far the unit has come.

In 1987 Amarillo was experiencing a homicide wave... One of those being the highly profiled murder or Sister Tadea Benz.

The solving of that case is how the unit really came together... And laid the ground work for a nationally recognized program.

Walt Howard was at the desk... Covering the prominent case. A case, just a handful of detectives were out working.

The first head of special crimes... Explains why the founders poured everything they had into finding the Sister's killer.

Jimmy Don Boydston "The primary reason for working that case was to catch the killer, we also knew in the back of our heads that if we did a good job on that, that perhaps the powers that be at the time would see our way of thinking and put together a permanent full time homicide squad."

Another reason the unit was needed... To stop the competition between law enforcement agencies.

Lt. Gary Trupe, with APD Special Crimes says, "It wasn't a very good system... The closure and clearance rates were poor. So they did this and the closure and the clearance rates skyrocketed. So instead of us all arguing with each other and investigating each other and seeing who could do a better job, we all started working together."

Out of 22 murders committed in 1987, 21 were cleared by Special Crimes, one is still under investigation.

Clearing cases is still the main goal... In fact that one unsolved case in 1987, was the murder or Narnie Bryson... Which Special Crimes solved in 2003.

Trupe says, "We have some more resources... We have some more scientific venues we can use now that they couldn't use then but what they used then, they used to great success."

Lt. Trupe says it comes down to great police work... Something all the technology in the world can never replace.

He tells me in 20 years he just wants the next leader of the program to say his team followed the standards and ethics of those who were there in the beginning.