The BEST Episodes of Cold Case Files

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Network: A&E

Unsolved crimes locked away in dusty file cabinets. Time is an ineffectual balm. Painful memories are left to a victim's loved ones. What happens when a killer gets away with murder? Thanks to the efforts of a special breed of modern detective, no one escapes the laws of justice - no matter how old the case.

Sex, Lies and Murder

#1 - Sex, Lies and Murder

Season 4 - Episode 11 - Aired Mar 12, 2002

Police in Overland Park, Kansas, hunt for over 15 years for a serial killer who lures women to Kansas for sadomasochistic sexual trysts at hotels.

star 9.00
1 votes
A Family Secret

#2 - A Family Secret

Season 6 - Episode 8 - Aired Jun 15, 2017

A 17-year-old girl from a small Kentucky town goes missing, then is found strangled two weeks later; a police investigation into the crime uncovers a terrible family secret.

star 8.50
4 votes
A Family Cursed

#3 - A Family Cursed

Season 6 - Episode 9 - Aired Jun 22, 2017

Two unsolved murders of loved ones plague a family; detectives uncover a hidden crime scene that may help solve the 13-year-old cold case.

star 8.25
4 votes
The Burning Secret/Justice Delayed

#4 - The Burning Secret/Justice Delayed

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired Mar 26, 1999

A rapist is captured seven years after the crime, but when he is released on a technicality his victim is determined to fight back. Fifteen years after a fire claimed the lives of a father and son, detectives interview the grown surviving son and learn a tragic tale of a mother who burned her family.

star 8.00
1 votes
Killer on Campus/Bow Hunter

#5 - Killer on Campus/Bow Hunter

Season 5 - Episode 8 - Aired Apr 2, 2006

Thirty-two years after the killing of University of Michigan law student Jane Mixer, police use DNA found on her pantyhose to finally track down the killer. And psychologists help solve a cold case by suggesting the lead detective take a page from the game of romance, and play hard to get with the killer.

star 8.00
9 votes
Killings on Christmas Eve

#6 - Killings on Christmas Eve

Season 6 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 6, 2017

A family torn apart by their grandparents’ murders. Two decades later, a cold case detective takes on the case that has haunted him since he was a child.

star 8.00
15 votes
A Killer Slips Away

#7 - A Killer Slips Away

Season 6 - Episode 10 - Aired Jun 29, 2017

Police learn the key witness in the stabbing death of a beloved aunt was an imposter; a return to the crime scene reveals a clue hidden in plain sight.

star 8.00
6 votes
The Answer in the Box/Maternal Instinct

#8 - The Answer in the Box/Maternal Instinct

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Jan 23, 1999

Answer in the Box Alison Parrott was a runner. Not only was she was runner she was a great runner, So much so that she had the local media interested in her, So when she got a call from a photographer to take some pictures of her running she didn't think anything wrong with it. She left to go to her photo session and wasn't seen alive again. The police had a fellow runner as the lead suspect but nothing ever happened with that lead. A cold case detective named Vic Matanovic was going through some files 10 years later and came across the case. When the detective was looking for clues to solve the case the Answer is in the Box. Usually DNA is enough to prove a case but in this case the criminal who lured Alison to her death had a plan to lure the jury to believe in the lie he was about to tell. Maternal Instinct 1981 a brother and sister fell victim to a heartless mother with no regard for life. 3 month old Seth Davis was rushed to the hospital because of insulin poisoning. He was left brain damaged. 5 months later his sister, Tenga Davis, is rushed to the hospital. There she dies of Caffeine poisoning. Even though the autopsy that was turned in by the M.E. stated cause of death was a homicide, the police treated this as an accident. Their mother Mary Beth Davis moves on with her own life by moving to a different state. She starts a new family and forgets all about what happened back in her past. That is until 10 years later when Mary Beth gets a knock on her door by the cold case detectives which brings back her past as the detectives are there to prove a case of murder.

star 7.92
26 votes
A Child Remembers

#9 - A Child Remembers

Season 5 - Episode 15 - Aired Aug 12, 2006

Our cameras follow Detective Manny Reyes as he investigates the 1990 murder of a Fort Worth, Texas woman. Reyes talks to the woman's two sons, who believe that her husband, Bobby, was the murderer. We then watch as one of the husband's relatives tells Reyes that Bobby has confessed the crime to him. To make the case even stronger, Reyes collects physical evidence that connects him to the crime. Finally, Reyes meets Bobby for a dramatic interrogation. Will he crack and admit the crime--or will he hang tough and deny it all?

star 7.88
8 votes
Daddy Dearest/A Pastor's Wife

#10 - Daddy Dearest/A Pastor's Wife

Season 5 - Episode 10 - Aired May 6, 2006

Nine years after the murders of a mother and her teenage daughters, a wiretapped conversation between the suspected killer and his sister helps police to crack the case. And the baffling murder of a Virginia woman is solved when human bones are discovered by a geologist working in North Carolina.

star 7.86
7 votes
She Never Came Home

#11 - She Never Came Home

Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired Mar 13, 2017

The case of a gruesome stabbing death of a bullied teenager remains unsolved for 27 years – until a rookie cold case detective sees a new clue in an old crime scene photo, leading her to a killer that everyone thought could not possibly have committed the crime.

star 7.83
18 votes
The Black Dahlia

#12 - The Black Dahlia

Season 5 - Episode 16 - Aired Sep 9, 2006

Bill Kurtis examines one of the most infamous cold cases in Los Angeles history -- the 1947 murder of actress Elizabeth Short, who was found nude and cut in half in an empty lot. Though charges have never been filed in the case, theories abound, and Kurtis investigates some of the most prominent ones. He talks to a retired LAPD detective whose 3 year investigation led to the stunning conclusion that his own father committed the murder. Kurtis also probes the theory that the killer was a surgeon named Walter Bayley. Kurtis finally explores the possibility that there may have been a police cover-up in the case to protect the real killer.

star 7.80
5 votes
Murder Checks In / Killer in the City

#13 - Murder Checks In / Killer in the City

Season 3 - Episode 21 - Aired May 21, 2001

Police hunt for a man who killed three women in three different hotels, not far from one another in Des Moines, Iowa. And police get a killer to confess when they tell him prosecutors will show photos of the gruesome crime scene.

star 7.75
4 votes
Terror in Telluride/Signature of a Killer

#14 - Terror in Telluride/Signature of a Killer

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Feb 26, 1999

Shoot outside her bedroom, Eva Shoen was shot to death. Living in Telluride, on the mountain side. Eva was married to the son of the billion dollar Shoen family who owned the U-Haul empire. With lacking evidence the case runs cold. Even though the police believe that her death was related to a fued in the family business. Years later the case is solved by a secret that was finally revealed and a recorded conversation is played. DNA also helped the killer to confess to the crime. Signature of a Killer Taylor Courtney was a 20 yr old man who was brutaly murdered in his apartment. The crime scene was bloody and vicious. A single print is found but in 1974 when fingerprint technology was still in its infancy it meant nothing. 20 years would pass before a cold case detective would pick up the case and look at it again. What they found was a match in the system which leads to a friend of Taylor's who had committed this murder because of mistaken suspicions and jealousy.

star 7.72
18 votes
Hour 1 - Cold Case Files

#15 - Hour 1 - Cold Case Files

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 1, 1999

In the first case in this episode Felicia Prechtl is found raped and murdered in Dallas, Texas/ The only thing the killer left behind was a fingerprint which was smudged. The fingerprint was left on a piece of duct tape that the killer used to tie up Felicia. It would take many years before Felicia would get justice. It would take the work of a dedicated detective to runs the prints through the system and find not only a match to the print but also finds the killer. And he wants to confess. The second story in this episode is about a little girl, Surrette Clark, who lived in the Arizona desert. She disappeared with nobody to even recognize that she was gone. After Surrette went missing at the age of 3 it would take more then 20 years to solve this mystery. Her parents took off across the Canadian border right after her disappearance. Finally a woman comes forward to tell of the families secret. With this information cold case detectives find out about a story of child abuse and how deadly some people will go to hide them. The third story in this episode is about a known man. One who has passed through our live via television either from watching the show or somebody talking about it. Its Bob Crane. Best known for his role on Hogan's Heroes as Colonel Hogan. Crane was strangled and beaten to death in his own bed in 1978. The story goes that Bob and a friend of his had a fight one night. With the small evidence that the police did have the police suspected his friend of his murder but could not prove it. It would be 12 years before anybody takes a second look at this case. On the second try police do find the evidence they need but will it be enough? In the fourth installment to this episode is about Ronnie Bullock. He was a man who had served 10 years of his sentence for raping an 11 year old girl. Through the entire time of his imprisionment he stayed stedfast to his claim of innocence. It would not be until DNA was founded that someone would listen to him

star 7.69
70 votes

#16 - Kidnapped

Season 4 - Episode 25 - Aired Jun 18, 2002

A kidnapper grabs 8-year-old Chad Choice from his home in Texas, then torments his parents with two ransom demands. The case goes cold until the parents receive a chilling package in the mail that contains a letter--and a skull.

star 7.67
3 votes
The Boy and the Monster/Secret in the Cellar

#17 - The Boy and the Monster/Secret in the Cellar

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Jan 8, 1999

The Boy and the Monster In Wisconsin in the winter of 1991 a young woman's body was found naked, badly beaten and to make it harder to identify her, her fingertips were cut off. After months of trying to figure out who she was they finally came up with a name. Doris McLeod. After finding out who she was the police find out a lot more about her. She had a troubled past. After being on the streets she ended up connected to a pimp. Only one month of being on the streets she is never seen again. It takes a 3 year old boy to finally tell the police about Doris and the Boy and the Monster. Secret in the Cellar The second part of this episode is about a young woman from South Portland, Maine who was in search of her mother. She contacts the police but they get nowhere. They question Bill Bruns, the missing woman's husband who told the police a story about how Pearl drank and ran off with another man. Elaine Woodward, the missing womans daughter, went to the media for help. An investigator takes the case and with the help of science and man power he finds out what happened to Pearl with the Secret in the Cellar.

star 7.66
47 votes
Sweethearts, Silenced

#18 - Sweethearts, Silenced

Season 6 - Episode 4 - Aired Mar 16, 2017

A killer authors a book about his con-man past that becomes the key to solving a 29-year-old cold case of two high school sweethearts–and three other cold case murders–leading police to believe he could be the Zodiac Killer.

star 7.65
17 votes
The Texas Drifter/The Fingerprint File

#19 - The Texas Drifter/The Fingerprint File

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Jan 15, 1999

Texas Drifter Two women in two separate towns in Texas who where raped. The rapist uses a knife to threaten these women then rapes them and leaves his DNA behind. Back when these happened DNA was not profected yet so having the DNA was useless. Many years later when CODIS was developed which is a database for DNA a match to the rapists DNA was found. It was to a known serial rapist. Fingerprint File It was two days before Christmas a woman if found stabbed to death with the only clue left is a fingerprint left on a pop bottle. The forensic people were able to lift the print but had no success in matching it to anybody. Years later a man still working on cold cases finds a match to the fingerpprint which gives the police a lead to a killer. Rose Among Thorns Juliet Rowe was the victim who got shot in the bedroom of her English Countryside home. She was shot execution style then was shot again in the heart. The killer wanted to make sure that Juliet was dead. After thousands of endless attempts her case remained unsolved. 8 years later a stranger comes into a pub and starts talking to Mr Rowe Juliet's husband. The stranger's name was Keith Rose. He was arrested on kidnapping charges 6 weeks later. Because of his arrest he brings attention to himself to the cold case investigators who then look at him in the "Rose Among Thorns" case.

star 7.55
31 votes
Something Snapped/A Killer's Dream

#20 - Something Snapped/A Killer's Dream

Season 5 - Episode 9 - Aired Apr 7, 2006

On a summer night in 1987 a mother worries and waits for her 19-year-old daughter to come home. But Diana never comes home and she's found raped and strangled near the Hudson River. Investigators suspect her friend, Michael because his alibi is shaky and witnesses place his truck near the crime scene. Trouble is, he passes a polygraph and his DNA is no match. Nevertheless, Michael remains the chief suspect for 17 years, until DNA fingers another man who offers a chilling story of Diana's last breath. Then, a young family's life is shattered when a San Antonio interior design shop becomes a crime scene. In 1983, a young mother is raped and murdered at work. The crime remains unsolved for two decades. Then in 2003 detectives reopen the case pegging their hopes on DNA. But when the evidence turns up missing, detectives worry this case could be over before it starts.

star 7.55
11 votes
The Night Shift

#21 - The Night Shift

Season 6 - Episode 5 - Aired May 25, 2017

College student Brad Perry shows up to work his graveyard shift at the gas station and is never seen alive again. It will take twenty years, the uncovering of an illegal drug ring in a squeaky-clean Mormon town, and the development of new forensic technology to solve this cold case.

star 7.55
11 votes
Caught on Tape/A Son Remembers

#22 - Caught on Tape/A Son Remembers

Season 5 - Episode 6 - Aired Feb 11, 2006

A video tape made at an ATM machine helps police in Louisville, KY, to nab a man suspected of raping 13 women. And a DA investigator in Georgia helps crack a murder case that his father, a police chief, first worked on 30 years before.

star 7.43
14 votes
The Deadly Stroll / Unholy Secret

#23 - The Deadly Stroll / Unholy Secret

Season 5 - Episode 17 - Aired Sep 23, 2006

In Rhode Island, policewomen go undercover in as street walkers to nab the man suspected of murdering three prostitutes. And a dagger-shaped letter opener is the key piece of evidence that links a priest to the grisly 1980 murder of a nun in Toledo, Ohio.

star 7.43
7 votes
One Night on the Bayou/The Buckeye Misdemeanor

#24 - One Night on the Bayou/The Buckeye Misdemeanor

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Feb 12, 1999

In Louisiana, in 1994, police find the body of a victim who's throat was slashed and body stabbed. With no evidence the case goes cold for many years until years later when a man is arrested for theft. The man is looking to find a way out of jail and tell the detectives of a tale of a murder, fishing and revenge one night many years ago One Night on the Bayou The second story line in this episode is about two men wielding guns in a motel lobby.The only clues left are a few finger prints. Since there were no other clues the case goes cold and is filed in the Buckeye Misdemeanor file. It would be 20 years before the police would look at that file again. With new technology they restart the search to find a killer.

star 7.41
29 votes
The Mark of Cain/Death on The Freeway

#25 - The Mark of Cain/Death on The Freeway

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Feb 19, 1999

James McCutcheon who makes his home in Florida is reported missing. His roommate Jim Drysdale has basically taken over James' life since his dissappearance. Using his car, taking over his checking account and business. Jim becomes the prime suspect but disappeares before he is arrested. Nearly 4 years would pass before police would catch a break. Jim makes his first mistake from high on the mountain tops of Tennessee where he had been hiding out. He files a clain with Social Security. Where police converge and arrest Jim. While taking him back to Florida Jim confesses to the murder and shows police where the body is. He does this showing no remorse at all. After doing his shift at work, LA Sheriff’s Sergeant George Arthur get into his van and heades home. But what differs on this ride home is that George was shot in his van. Blood was collected from his van and eyewitnesses claim to see a man running from the scene. Without DNA advancement and tecnology the case goes cold. However in 1999 DNA has advanced so far that the this cold case was able to be looked at again. In the investigation police DNA swabs were voluntarily collected from all of Georges friends. That is until they came to former Sheriff’s Deputy Ted Eugene Kirby who refused to give his swab. Suspicous of this police dig and find out that Ted was dating George's soon to be ex wife. He was also treated for head injuries for head injuries shortly after the murder and he called off sick for almost 2 weeks after it as well. After having to file for a search warrant and got the ok, the police collected a swab and found the DNA matched. As police rush to arrest Ted he is missing. Later it turns out that Kirby committed suicide.

star 7.41
22 votes