Homicide | St. Louis Public Radio

Homicide

Children Under Fire is a series examining how communities are affected when children are killed by gun violence.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 27 

It's a horrific crime: the killing of a child. In St. Louis in 2019, it's been repeated again and again. Since Memorial Day weekend, nine children have been killed by gun violence in the city. All of the victims have been black.

As part of Children Under Fire, an ongoing series examining the reasons for the shootings and providing insight into how communities are affected, St. Louis Public Radio will tell the stories of the shooting victims. 

Alexis Winston was found shot to death in her apartment in the John Robinson Homes in East St. Louis.
Florince Harlan

Editor’s note: There were 341 unsolved murders in East St. Louis between 2000 and 2018. In many of these cases, police had evidence and suspects, but no charges were filed. Here is one of those cases. This article originally appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat.

An early morning phone call with a frantic woman’s voice is countered by the dispatcher’s measured, calm tone.

“He’s breaking in my house now. Please hurry! Please hurry! Hello?” the woman cries.

17 Years After He Was Attacked Outside A Nightclub, His Family Still Waits For Justice

Apr 26, 2019
John Hill was shot to death on Dec. 9, 2001 in the rear of the Club Casinos in the 6800 block of State Street in East St. Louis
Derik Holtmann | BND

Editor’s note: There were 341 unsolved murders in East St. Louis between 2000 and 2018. In many of these cases, police had evidence and suspects, but no charges were filed. Here is one of those cases. This article originally appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat.

A shotgun blast sent 24-year-old John Hill to a St. Louis hospital, where he died several days later. The cousin of an Illinois police officer was soon arrested.

East St. Louis Public Housing Residents Are Terrified They’ll Be Murder Victims Next

Apr 25, 2019
A body is removed from the John DeShields Housing Project after a murder there.
Derik Holtmann | BND

This article originally appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat.

The courtyard at the Roosevelt Homes public housing complex on North 44th Street is filled with the sounds of children playing, the thump of a basketball on the court, neighbors laughing and talking.

Sometimes those everyday sounds are overtaken by the sounds that come at night: a pounding at the door. Gunshots. Screams. A child’s whispered prayer asking for it all to stop.

“I would ask for God to stop the shooting,” one little girl wrote in a children’s newsletter for an after-school program in the city.

This is part of living in the most dangerous areas of East St. Louis, which statistically has the highest murder rate in the country.

A child attends a rally in East St. Louis, a city that averages 24 murders a year, nearly five times the national average.
Zia Nizami | BND

This article originally appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat.

The boy was inches from his mother when she took her final breaths.

The man who shot her ran away, leaving the 3-year-old strapped in a car seat, a vulnerable witness to a horror that still haunts him.

Three years later, the boy’s father was shot to death during a neighborhood barbecue. The boy heard gunshots and saw his dying father lying in the grass, unable to move.

This child was barely old enough to attend school when he saw his father killed.

Chief John Hayden said police believed the rash of killings over the weekend  to be drug related in a press conference on Monday.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

St. Louis Police suspect four of six killings over the past weekend were drug-related, Chief John Hayden said Monday.

Drugs were found at two of the crime scenes, but police would not identify them. All the victims were found shot in their cars.

LA Johnson | NPR

Washington University will host a free public symposium on gun violence prevention this week.

The second annual Larry Lewis Health Policy Symposium will bring together experts specializing in gun violence research from a public health and policy perspective. Organizers say the goal is to reduce gun violence in St. Louis, a city with one of the highest rates of gun-related deaths in the country.

Shelia Price marches against violence with her grandchildren Saturday, March 19, 2016 in north St. Louis. Her son died from a gun shot 20 years ago.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year, black-and-white "We Must Stop Killing Each Other" signs began popping up in yards across St. Louis.

The organization behind the signs, Better Family Life, had just received $55,000 from the city of St. Louis to continue its efforts to reduce violence in targeted city neighborhoods.

A 24-hour challenge to curb gun violence in St. Louis

Mar 14, 2016
Marcis Curtis, an artist and co-founder of Citizen Carpentry, organizes sticky notes during a brainstorming session at the Community Reaction Lab.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Two groups of St. Louisans took on a challenge this weekend that many in the region have spent years trying to address: Find a way to reduce gun violence in the community.

And there was a catch. The groups had just 24 hours to create a proposal.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Today, St. Louis Public Radio released its series on homicide in the city of St. Louis after months of preparation. The series takes a look at homicide from the point-of-view of a victim’s family and friends, investigators, first responders and the residents of a neighborhood. While many media portrayals of St. Louis’ homicide rate come as statistics, with little more than a blurb or sound bite attached to them, reporters Durrie Bouscaren and Rachel Lippmann looked at the issue more deeply.

Mary Edwards

Reporters Durrie Bouscaren and Camille Phillips have covered a wide variety of issues in the region in the last year. They joined host Don Marsh to discuss the most problematic ones and agreed the two most pressing issues are homicides and heroin addiction. To date there have been 187 homicides in St. Louis but few arrests.

vigil gun violence st. john's remember reflect respond
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When he heard that his son had been shot, Rev. Ken McKoy felt the 15-minute drive to the hospital was the longest he has ever taken. His son’s life flashed before his eyes.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

St. Louis police confirmed the city's 160th homicide earlier this week, a number that surpasses last year's murder total. 

William Woods, the special agent in charge of the St. Louis office of the FBI, announces the Mission SAVE task force with chief Sam Dotson (L) and Mayor Francis Slay (R) Flanked by St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson.
FIle photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

One hundred five people have been killed in St. Louis so far this year, putting the city on pace for nearly 200 homicides in 2015. Many more than that have been shot or put in danger of being shot.

Now, city officials are looking to a new local-federal task force to slow the pace of violence in the city.

Sam Dotson and officers listen to James Clark before a hotspot patrol in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Crime in the city of St. Louis continues to be higher in 2015 compared to the numbers from last year.

Statistics released Tuesday by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police show crime was up nearly 14 percent overall in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, though the rate of increase has slowed each month. Every category of crime except rape and arson was up by double digits.

Panel: Gun violence in St. Louis is a public health crisis

Apr 21, 2015
(via Flickr/M Glasgow)

A panel of community organizers, anti-violence experts and Washington University professors are seeking solutions to reduce the number of shooting deaths by identifying gun violence as a public health crisis.

Gun violence hits the St. Louis region in a profound way. Here are just a few of the numbers: 

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce speaks with reporters about how her office will seek warrants for drivers who refuse breath tests.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

St. Louis American - KANSAS CITY – “Last year in the city of St. Louis we had 159 homicides, 138 through gun violence, and more than 90 percent of the victims were young, African-American males,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce, the city’s elected prosecutor, said Monday at Kansas City Police Department headquarters. “We cannot have that again.”

Homicides reported in the City of St. Louis, according to Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, by year. The 2014 year-to-date number is as of 10/27/2014.
Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics / FBI

In 2013, the city of St. Louis recorded 120 homicides. The city’s 148th homicide of 2014 occurred Tuesday night.

That’s nearly a 25 percent year-over-year increase, and is a problem that needs to be investigated, said Richard “Rick” Rosenfeld, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and former president of the American Society of Criminology.

Rosenfeld doesn’t buy into the “Ferguson effect” — the notion that crime increased after the August shooting death of an 18-year-old man by a police officer in Ferguson, at least not in homicide numbers.

Rachel Lippmann / St. Louis Public Radio

A grandmother walking home from the store with her grandchildren. An Ethiopian refugee who worked as a convenience store clerk. A brother and a sister, killed three hours apart.

With a little more than two months left in the year, the city of St. Louis has already reached 120 homicides, the total number of murders reported in all of 2013.

That’s 120 victim’s families, assailant’s families, and neighborhood blocks that will never be the same, said James Clark.

The Washington Post has released a project this week entitled "Gun suicide and homicide: statistics shaped by race." In the project's interactive graphic, Missouri is listed, along with Washington, D.C. as the state/area with the highest rate of black homicide death in the nation. Explore more of the Post's work in this project via the link.

Commentary: Profiles in homicide

Aug 30, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 30, 2012 - The recent murder of Megan Boken has once again focused public attention on the enduring problem of crime in St. Louis. In response to this senseless tragedy, Police Chief Daniel Isom has transferred extra officers from day auxiliary shifts (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) to second shifts (6 p.m.-2 a.m.).

SLU conference investigates criminal deaths, forensic science

Jul 25, 2011
(via flickr/alancleaver_2000)

Saint Louis University is hosting a conference this week on advances in criminal death investigation and forensic science.

Conference organizer and SLU pathologist Dr. Mary Case is the chief medical examiner for St. Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin counties. Case says that this year, the biennial event has drawn about 200 participants from across the country.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The homicide unit of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is getting a little bigger.

The Board of Police Commissioners at its meeting today approved adding 10 detectives to the unit. Four of them have been serving with the division on a temporary basis, and the six others will be selected from among the city's 900 patrol officers.

The subject was murder

Sep 25, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2010 - Candles have an especially unpleasant meaning for Jeanette Culpepper. She recalls a recent conversation with a donor.

"He said to me, 'I'm tired of buying candles'," she remembered. "'I know you are. I'm tired of lighting them.'"

But light them she does - and has at vigil after vigil during the nearly two decades since her 22-year-old son was shot to death.

Commentary: Whole lotta shootin' goin' on

Nov 12, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 12, 2009 - I was listening to talk radio last Friday, anxious to learn details of the massacre at Fort Hood the day before. Initially the alleged shooter, one Nidal Malik Hasan, was reported to have been killed. Later, he was alive but critical and in a coma. Last I heard, he was in stable condition but not talking.

Commentary: More guns won't make city residents safer

Dec 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 3, 2008 - With homicides in the city of St. Louis running 44 percent higher through October of this year compared with the same period in 2007, Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe's proposal this week for residents to arm themselves is understandable - but it won't help. And more guns in communities already hard hit by firearm violence could make conditions worse.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 15, 2008 - The new St. Louis police chief, Daniel Isom, begins his Oct. 10 blog with a quote from Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Commentary: Annie get your camcorder

Jul 8, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 9, 2008 -  It's been more than a year since the local chapter of the ACLU launched "Project Vigilant" in the Fairgrounds Park neighborhood of north St. Louis. This initiative, which issued video cameras to private citizens to record police misconduct, was announced with almost giddy fanfare and garnered widespread press coverage in June 2007.

Analysis: Crime in St. Louis has been worse

Jun 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 11, 2008 - Recent reports of an increase in crime in St. Louis bring back memories of a time, not so long ago, when crime rates were at an all-time high. Historical perspective may be cold comfort to today's crime victims, but it helps to know that crime rates do not always rise; they also fall, sometimes dramatically.

Knowing why crime declined in the past can help us to figure out why it is increasing now and how to avoid a return to a far worse period in recent history.