East St. Louis law enforcement push for information on homicides | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis law enforcement push for information on homicides

Dec 13, 2017

Law enforcement officials in East St. Louis are making a year-end push for witnesses to come forward in unsolved homicides.

Thirty-four people have been killed in East St. Louis so far this year. But police have been able to solve just eight of those cases. That clearance rate of 24 percent is well below the national average, which was about 60 percent in 2016.

“Very rarely is it a forensics piece of evidence that’s going to solve a case. Very rarely is there actual video,” St. Clair County state’s attorney Brendan Kelly said at a news conference on Tuesday, where he was joined by members of the East St. Louis Police Department and Illinois State Police. “We cannot make these cases without the help of the public.”

Sgt. Elbert Jennings is among Illinois State Police investigators who help with homicide cases in East St. Louis. For him, asking witnesses to come forward is personal, as his brother’s 1999 homicide remains unsolved.

“And I do believe, just like in 1999, in this year, in today’s time, there are people from 1999 who know what happened, as well as there are people from 2017 who know what happened,” Jennings said. “You may think it’s the smallest piece of information, but it’s the biggest piece of the puzzle.”

Both the Illinois State Police and officers with the East St. Louis Police Department will accept anonymous tips. Jennings and Kelly also urged people to call CrimeStoppers.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann