AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state is hoping the lure of money will help them solve more cold cases. On Wednesday, the Office of the Governor, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Texas Crime Stoppers launched a new reward program related to the Texas Ranger Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program. Texas Crime SToppers will now pay a reward of up to $3,000 to any person who provides information that leads to an arrest for a cold case listed on the DPS Unsolved Homicides website.
“It is a tremendous affront to society when a heinous crime like murder goes unsolved, and the state of Texas has an obligation to the victims and our communities to help ensure justice is ultimately served,” said Governor Abbott in a release. “This new reward program was created to help identify the perpetrators of these crimes and provide overdue closure in these cases.”
The Texas Ranger Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program was created in 2001 to help law enforcement agencies with a process for investigating unsolved murders. None of the current 12 high profile cases involve victims from the Central Texas area. However, in the Central and South Texas region, there are currently 22 cold cases listed, many of which are from Bexar County.
Linda Muegge’s 2007 death in Fredericksburg is one of the cases profiled. On May 14, 2007, Muegge, 55, came home from a local yoga class when witnesses reported her house on fire. Authorities say after the fire was put out, Muegge’s body was found inside. Investigators say Muegge was murdered and her home was intentionally set on fire.
The new reward program is being funded by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division and administered by DPS. The reward money can be increased to $6,000 if a tip comes in for a case that is featured in a public awareness campaign. The state says the tip has to come in before the next case is featured in the following month.
To be eligible for the cash rewards, tipsters must provide information to authorities by calling the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477). All tips can be offered anonymously, and tipsters will be provided a tip number instead of using a name.