There are 15 unsolved homicides and about seven unsolved rapes in Norman, according to Norman Police Det. Jim Parks.

Parks said he’s hoping to decrease that number after the Norman Police Department formed a new cold case unit in August and named Parks its lead investigator.

Parks, who retired from law enforcement in 2012, decided get back in the saddle when an opportunity to lead the unit presented itself.

“I had the fortune to work on a couple of cold cases before I retired and I found them really satisfying,” Parks said. “It’s good when you can take an unsolved case and close it to give closure to the family, especially when you’re talking about the major crimes like rape and homicide.”

Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey said the part-time position wasn’t created because the department stopped investigating cold cases, but rather because it decided to create a unit devoted to cold cases.

“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to have some things move on these cases,” he said.

Humphrey said he’s not only confident in the unit, but also Parks.

“Jim is a lifetime investigator,” he said. “He is passionate, and he has a vested interest in these cases.”

One of the cases Parks and Humphrey are hopeful for is the unsolved death of 27-year-old Owachige Elice Osceola.

According to Parks, Osceola had moved to Norman from Anadarko a few months prior to her death on Sept. 25, 2013.

Parks said some of her friends had seen a Facebook post that read “Moose is trying KM,” and it alarmed them.

“They didn’t know what was going on. They tried to call her and it went straight to voicemail,” he said. “They decided to drive up to Norman and discovered the front door standing wide-open, so they called the police.”

Once officers arrived, they found Osceola deceased, inside an upstairs bedroom, Parks said.

Parks said “Moose” from the Facebook post was determined to be a person Osceola knew, but the individual was eliminated as a suspect.

“It was apparent that somebody got on her Facebook and put that post up in an effort to lead police away from the actual suspect,” he said.

Parks said the department felt it had a solid circumstantial case against one particular suspect, but the district attorney’s office didn’t feel like there was a strong enough case and charges weren’t filed.

“It went cold from there,” he said.

Parks is asking for the public’s help in this case. He said no matter what information anyone has, he urges them to come forward.

“Everybody in [Norman] has a part in keeping our community safe,” he said. “If anyone knows anything about this case or any other case, they have an obligation to notify the authorities. Each person may only know one small detail, but it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Parks said Osceola’s family has offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the suspect in the case. He recommends people go through Norman Crime Stoppers so their tips are documented.

Anonymous tips can be submitted using text message by sending the tip and the agency code “TIP1323” to 274637 (CRIMES), online using the website submission form located at Normanpd.normanok.gov, or by calling 405-366-STOP. Tips can also be submitted directly to Parks at 405-366-5208.

Jacob McGuire is the Crime and Courts reporter for The Norman Transcript. McGuire is currently pursuing his MPA at the University of Oklahoma.