The BEST Episodes of Cold Case Files
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Oct 18, 2020
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.
#1 - The Merry Widow/The Bad Cop
Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Jan 22, 2001
In 1983, Navy seamen Sonny Grotton left base for a long weekend at home. But as he pulled into his driveway, a gunman killed him. And in 1993, former state trooper Doug Wright claimed his estranged wife shot and killed herself in their home.
#2 - Lil' Miss /Skeletons In The Closet
Season 3 - Episode 24 - Aired Jun 11, 2001
An eerie note left on a grave helps solve a 12-year-old case of murder, and an exhaustive questioning of a mother helps police unravel the mysterious deaths of three of her
#3 - 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.
#4 - 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.
#5 - 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.
#6 - Death Before I Do/Hollywood Homicide
Season 3 - Episode 10 - Aired Mar 5, 2001
Police crack a cold case of murder when a mysterious woman calls to say that her boyfriend is the killer; and the murder of a woman in 1998 provides clues to the 1988 murder of actress Myra Davis, a stand-in for Janet Leigh in the movie Psycho.
#7 - Blood Money/Precious Doe
Season 3 - Episode 11 - Aired Mar 12, 2001
Testimony about the growth of larvae in dead bodies helps convict the man who stabbed a couple to death and strangled their 4-year-old daughter in 1993. And the 2001 murder of a young girl, whose head was cut off, remains unsolved.
#8 - Unholy Bible/A Daughter's Justice
Season 3 - Episode 12 - Aired Mar 19, 2001
A Texas woman's murder is solved when the killer's plan to murder another woman and stuff her into a duffel bag goes awry; and a reporter doing a story on unsolved homicides helps crack a case of murder that had been ruled an accidental death.
#9 - A Man Scorned/The Dungeon
Season 4 - Episode 6 - Aired Feb 5, 2002
Police suspect a gay man murdered a woman because she became too friendly with his boy friend. And a man goes on a monstrous crime spree, abducting five women over 15 years and forcing each to spend months and even years as his sex slave.
#10 - 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.
#11 - 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.
#12 - 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.
#13 - 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.
#14 - 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.
#15 - 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?
#16 - 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.
#17 - 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.
#18 - 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.
#19 - 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.
#20 - 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
#21 - 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.
#22 - 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.
#23 - 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.
#24 - 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.
#25 - 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.