CLEVELAND -- He's the man at the center of this year's most memorable cases. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty had a year of resolution for dozens of unsolved mysteries.
"We've made a lot of progress in a year. We're just starting. We've got a long way to go. Me and the policies we're trying to implement," said McGinty in a candid sit down interview with Channel 3's Sara Shookman.
You can watch all 40 minutes of our interview with McGinty in four clips within this article
"We've done well, but we could do a lot better. And we're going to do better," he says, in 2014.
Watch part 1 of 4:
McGinty is focused on the worst criminals, the men and women that take away from a Cuyahoga County he knows is possible.
"We need to make the criminal justice system work effectively to achieve that public confidence. That's our big goal," he said.
His first year in office, his work has been high profile, prosecuting Ariel Castro.
McGinty says that case saw collaboration between a team of FBI, BCI agents, Cleveland Police and Cuyahoga Sheriff's deputies in a way he hasn't seen in forty years.
"Castro was an amazing case. We had three heroes there. Three amazing women who fought every day for survival," he said. "I never saw anything like it. That night. It was extraordinary. And it was refreshing to know they never gave up. I, myself, confess I doubted they were alive, but the police never did."
While Castro will never finish his 1000 year sentence, McGinty says he doesn't believe it's by choice.
Watch part 2 of 4:
"I wasn't surprised. It was an accidental," he said. "We knew this guy. We knew he was a chronic complainer. He wasn't satisfied with anything. If you got him a steak dinner, he'd complain he didn't get steak and lobster. So the fact that he was unhappy in jail is hardly a surprise. And people don't commit suicide with their pants down. Let's put it that way. This is a not a normal suicide. The evident is stronger for accident than it is for purposeful suicide."
"Do you wish he was still serving the time?" asked Shookman. "I don't spend a moment worrying about Castro. Not one minute of my life am I going to worry about that guy," said McGinty.
McGinty says he still doesn't believe Castro didn't have other victims. In searching for them, he's found criminals like Elias Acevedo, and more than 1000 others he knows are out there with his DNA Cold Case Initiative Task Force
"We've shifted our resources, because nothing is more important than to take these 1000 individuals off the streets of Cuyahoga County, where we know they will rape, attack, burglarize. Commit armed robberies," he said.
The project started with 1993 cases to get ahead of the 20-year statute of limitations. In January, with the help of the state's BCI lab, they'll jump ahead to the most recent, therefore possibly still active cases.
Watch part 3 of 4:
"We want to take advantage of whatever science will give us and manna from heaven came with DNA," he said. "This is the most exciting project I've seen for law enforcement in 40 years in this court. There's more opportunity to make a dent in public safety now than we've ever had before. Taking 1000 habitual criminals off the street or keeping them off the street if they are already in the penitentiary, is an amazing event, because these guys, many of them are one man crime waves."
He's learning lessons from Seymour Avenue and beyond. He wants to find federal and state funding to clear out vacant properties, more than 20,000 he's found in our county.
"We want to eradicate the homes from whole areas. We don't want to do it piecemeal," he said. "We want to take an area, focus on the home tear down. Because there's a direct relationship between crime in these cities and these abandoned homes.
Watch part 4 of 4:
They'll work weekends and volunteer time in 2014 to keep up with the DNA project and the inevitable load of new cases, like the just announced indictments in the Bedford corruption and human trafficking case.
But McGinty sees the possible.
"I see renewed public confidence in Cleveland. I see a economy on the upswing. An exciting time for Cuyahoga County. I haven't seen this since the 80s," said the lifelong county resident. "We have that momentum and we're going to do our job in the criminal justice system to make this a safer place for economic development to be possible."