As 2012 drew to a close, the nation was shocked and saddened by the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. Second only to Virginia Tech in lives lost in a moment of school violence, the losses of Sandy Hook Elementary seemed, for many of us, too much to bear.
In D.C. we know that one family’s loss is a community’s loss. For too long we’ve come together, again and again, to grieve our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. This is perhaps why the Sandy Hook shooting is so difficult to understand. It’s impossible to imagine so much tragedy at once.
This is an historic year in D.C. For the first time since 1963, fewer than 100 people have been killed in our city. While we continue to mourn those who have been killed, we must celebrate and reflect on the lives not lost. On the violence avoided.
In an interview with Homicide Watch D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier spoke about the decline.
“When I think about the number from where I started from in 1990 when we had 479, it seems dramatic,” she said. “I’ve said since ‘07 our tipping point is less than 100 and we can do it. But I still think about 82 families who have lost somebody. So it’s certainly not, it’s not victory. But it feels like a good milestone for us. I think we passed the tipping point.”
As of this writing, 87 people have been killed in DC in 2012. Among the good news: no teenagers under the age of 18 were killed this year. Sadly, more infant deaths were reported this year than last: Keyontae Osbia Moore, Kuron Rashad Hunt, and a baby girl found on a doorstep on Channing Street Northeast in the depth of winter last January.
That child’s death, as well as Hunt’s, remain among the 41 unsolved 2012 D.C. homicides. MPD’s closure rate this year is expected to be about 80 percent, compared to last year’s 95 percent closure rate. The difference, perhaps, can be credited to MPD’s high rate of cold case closures last year. In 2011, 38 prior year homicides were closed, compared to 24 this year.
Today we launch the start of a special year-in-review series featuring interviews, investigative reports, charts, roundups and more, all exploring this year in D.C. homicides.
Join us throughout the next week for guest columns from community leaders, an interview with Chief Lanier, an exploration of 2012 cases ruled “self-defense,” a roundup of the year’s most talked about cases and more.
On a personal note, I’d like to especially thank our readers who contributed this year to keep Homicide Watch D.C. alive. Your support has allowed us to hire three incredible interns—Sam Pearson, Penny Ray, and Jonah Newman—to keep the site running while I participate in a journalism fellowship program at Harvard University. Jonah is leaving us at the end of this year for a full-time position at the Chronicle of Higher Education as a database reporter. He’s done terrific work for Homicide Watch D.C.(see his profile on Albrecht Muth, for example), and he will be an asset to the Chronicle’s team. We look forward to introducing new interns to you soon.
As 2012 draws to a close, we remember D.C.’s homicide victims, as well as those killed in Newtown, Conn. and across the United States. May their families find justice, and the nation, peace.
- Laura Amico, editor, Homicide Watch D.C.