Skip to main content

California man's confession to a cold-case homicide puts the spotlight on a detective squad in California

By Philip Anselmo

The Batavian picked up a story from the Daily News earlier about Robert Kirkup, a 68-year-old man from Big River, California, who was extradited to Genesee County Jail following Kirkup's recent confession to the murder of his wife during a camping trip back in 1992.

We thought to poke around a bit more online to see if we could dig up some more details on Kirkup, why the 16-year-old cold case was reopened and how detectives got a confession out of a man who admitted nothing for so long.

WHEC News-10 NBC in Rochester had the story posted on its Web site.

The Michigan State Police opened an investigation into the disappearance of Janet Kirkup because at the time, the Kirkup’s were living in Jackson, Michigan. Eventually Robert Kirkup moved to Big River, California, which is located in San Bernardino County. Until this June, Janet Kirkup’s whereabouts and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance were unknown.

After Robert Kirkup relocated to Big River, California, the Kirkup’s daughter, Susan Waller persuaded the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to interview her father into the disappearance of her mother.

While being interviewed by officers from the Sheriff’s Department, Kirkup revealed that he was responsible for Janet Kirkup’s death. Members from the New York State Police Troop A Violent Crimes Investigative Team flew out to California and interviewed him. The investigation revealed that in August of 1992 while camping in Genesee County, Mr. Kirkup killed his wife, Janet Kirkup. 

The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, explained that the murder of Janet Kirkup may have been solved thanks to the renewed efforts of cold-case homicide detectives in San Bernardino County's sheriff's department. Ontario, California's Inland Valley Daily Bulletin profiled the detectives and their two most recent successes earlier this week.

var requestedWidth = 0;

Their days are spent searching for bridges to the dead.

They've found them in unlikely places: a man's duffel bag, the words of a guilt-ridden husband, residue of a gun and a desert grave.

And that's only in the last month.

The newly created "Cold Case Team" is taking to the hills, valleys and deserts of San Bernardino County in search of 600 killers who have escaped the long arm of the law for years.

"It may be a cold case to us because it's old, but it's never a cold case to the victims' families," District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said Tuesday in his announcement about teaming with the Sheriff's Department.

Investigators said that a search for the body of Janet Kirkup may start soon.

Authentically Local