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Journal Sentinel Wraps 'Unsolved' Series, For Now

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The case of John Zera has confounded law enforcement since the 14-year old was found murdered in Whitnall Park in the winter of 1976.  But a seven-part weekly series in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has cast new light and brought new attention to the case.

The final installment of the Unsolved series runs Wednesday. 

"There have been a lot of fits and starts. A lot of different suspects. A lot of errors in the investigation. And so tomorrow will be the final installment, but we still won’t know who the killer is," says crime and criminal justice reporter Gina Barton.

Unfortunately, John Zera's case is not uncommon in law enforcement. "Sadly this kind of thing happens almost everyday and not all of these cases get this kind of attention," says Barton.

For families directly effected by unsolved crimes, Barton says they don't want to lose hope or forget the people who are no longer with them, and they don't want the police to give up either.

But she hopes that the seventh installment won’t be the end of the story. She, the police and John's family hope that someday there will be a new break in the case. For Barton, working on this series created a new appreciation for the intensive work police do compared to her previous reporting focused on mistakes police have made.

"I think I have a really new and deeper understand of just how much work goes into these investigations. How tedious it is, how time consuming it is, how much the detectives and officers care about what they're doing," she says.