Police post crimes on the Internet

April 15, 1997


Staff Writer

Maryland State Police have taken to the Information Superhighway in search for help solving old cases that have run into dead ends.

Investigators posted their first "cold case" Monday on the Maryland State Police Internet home page. Police hope a World Wide Web surfer with information about the 1992 homicide in St. Mary's County will stumble across the page and give them information about case, Sgt. Laura Lu Herman said.

While police have long sought citizen help on old cases, Herman said this is the first time police are reaching into cyberspace - with its potential to reach millions of people.


"It's enabling us to solicit assistance, not just in Maryland and surrounding states it's allowed us to go worldwide," she said. "It's another tool we can use."

Internet visitors who click on the site are greeted by a logo of an open drawer of a filing cabinet and a description of the unsolved case.

In the case posted Monday, police are looking for information about a homicide that occurred in Mechanicsville, Md., on June 26, 1992. Police responded to a car fire and found the burned body of a California, Md., woman a few feet from the car.

Investigators ruled the cause of death was asphyxiation.

A picture of the woman, Sara Marie Sapp, appears next to a $10,000 reward offer.

Herman said criminal investigators from state police units across the state will send in information about old cases for Internet postings. She said old cases might rotate if officials receive too many.

Internet users have more than a dozen other menu options when they click on the state police home page, including Maryland's Most Wanted, a greeting from Superintendent David B. Mitchell, recruiting information and statistics.

The site is a link on the Maryland State Police home page at (, Herman said. People with information can click on the state police e-mail address - ( - to send in tips.

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