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Meet the APD detective who made arrests in two cold cases in two months

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In April, Alexandria Police Department Det. Tanner Dryden did what many thought might never be done - he made an arrest in the 16-year-old cold case of the death of Courtney Coco. Two months later, he solved another cold case.

When the workday wraps for Det. Dryden, more work begins.

“I just see what I can see that other detectives haven’t been able to see,” he said.

In 2018, he began opening the files of some of the police department’s toughest cold cases. First up - the 2004 homicide of 19-year-old Courtney Coco.

“To be honest, I felt like it needed to be looked into again,” said Det. Dryden.

Coco’s body had been found in an abandoned building in Winnie, Texas in Oct. 2004. The case had its fair share of hands on it over the years. But, it notoriously was stuck. Det. Dryden wanted to give it another go.

“I read the file front to back and looked through all the paperwork,” said Det. Dryden. “I try to familiarize myself with the case the best I can with what information I have.”

From there, he circles back on old leads.

“I go from there to look and see why wasn’t this investigated further in this direction,” he said. “What was the reason they looked at this person?”

He does this while simultaneously working a hefty active case load of between three and four new cases a day. Det. Dryden said much of the cold case work happens after he leaves for the day. He said if you’re lucky, things fall into place.

“If you work a case too long, some things won’t stand out to you,” he said. “A fresh set of eyes, especially on an old case, can be very beneficial.”

Det. Dryden’s fresh set of eyes led to the April arrest of 43-year-old David Anthony Burns of Boyce. He said a new witness helped crack the case.

Since that arrest, Det. Dryden has made another. Just two months after the arrest in the Courtney Coco case, he made an arrest in a case from 2009 - a three-year-old killed on Laurel Street. The suspect, 31-year-old O’Neil Wesley, was tracked down in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Det. Dryden said sometimes only the smallest detail is keeping a case cold. He credits the entire team of detectives for working day in and day out to get justice. And, he said it’s a good feeling when they accomplish that.

“It helped our department as far as morale,” said Det. Dryden of the Courtney Coco case arrest. “We had a lot invested in that. There was a lot of scrutiny. We didn’t want the public to ever think that we stopped working it or we didn’t care that the case ever got solved.”

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