It was a violent winter and spring in St. Joseph County. Investigators worked shooting after shooting – many of them involving young people in their teens and early 20s.
“The greatest percentage we see are people who know each other,” said Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett. “They’re not just random acts where somebody's driving down a street and decides they're going to kill somebody.”
January – June Year Total
2012 11 N/A
2011 10 16
2010 5 9
2009 10 19
2008 N/A 19
“The one common denominator they have is it’s all stupid,” Corbett added. “It’s all over something that doesn’t matter in the long run.”
Homicides are also significantly lower than the 1990s when as many as 25 murders were reported each year. Police say many of them were gang-related. Corbett said he thinks some of the people who were sent to prison for some of those murders are still doing their time and aren't able to be out committing more murders. He also said cops have better resources now than they did 25 years ago.
Former St. Joseph County Sheriff and IU South Bend Criminal Justice Lecturer Rick Sniff said some studies relate warmer weather to more crime.
“People aren’t in their homes, they’re not trying to stay warm. They’re out, they're drinking, a lot of the crime is alcohol related and again the heat and humidity adds to tempers and so-forth. And the interesting part of that is when the temperature reaches the 90s, the violent crime actually starts to go down because people are staying home,” he said.
But Corbett said he and his investigators don’t focus on studies like that.
“I don't think these guys look at the barometric pressure, the dew count, the temperature, the time of day or night. I think they just do what they do without any kind of thought process whatsoever. So I don't hold a whole lot of stock into that,” Corbett said.
Right now, he added, Metro Homicide Unit’s solve rate is between 85 and 90 percent. The national average, he said, is about 65 percent. The unit considers a case solved if an arrest has been made or if a suspect has been identified, but may not be apprehended, for example, because the victim is unwilling to testify.
Detectives are working hard on several recent cases that are still open – including the Feb. 26 murder of Chris Simril, an 18-year-old Washington High School student gunned down at Walker Field Park; the double murder of 21-year-old Kalyn Farmer who was driven to Memorial Hospital by a friend and later died and 22-year-old Mercede Newbill who was found shot in the head inside a vehicle in the 1000 blk of Napier Street; and Saturday morning’s shooting of 30-year-old David Middleton who, at last check, was being kept alive by a ventilator.
Investigators are still tracking down leads and conducting interviews in all three of those cases.
If you know anything about that shooting or any others, you can call Crimestoppers at (574) 288-STOP.