City homicide clearance rate sits below national average

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Three women from Buffalo sit in a room on the city’s East Side. They don’t really know each other but they understand each other in a way few people do. They’ve all experienced sudden loss and still don’t have any answers.

Deveda Patterson’s son Ronnie Scott was 17 years old when he was shot and killed. That happened three and a half years ago but the case remains open.

“I never thought it would hit home,” said Patterson. “It’s real though.”

Congie Carson’s story is similar.

“No man has the right to kill another person,” said Carson.

On January 4th of this year, her 34 year old son, Quan, was shot and killed.

“I said ‘Don’t tell me, don’t tell me it’s Quan,'” cries Carson, remembering the moment she found out her eldest child had been murdered.

Again – no one has been arrested and charged with his murder.

Alexis Gray is angry she doesn’t have any information about her boyfriend’s murderer. Eddie, 28, was killed in August while he was sitting in his car outside of the couple’s house.

“I was napping and woke up to gun shots,” recalls Gray as tears well up in her eyes. “I ran outside and he was there, still alive. I kept asking ‘Who did this? Who shot you?’ but he didn’t know. He told me he loved me and then that was it. He died. I was right there and our kids were inside.”

At the time of Eddie’s murder, Gray was 7 months pregnant with their second child.

 

“He was always there. Just from seeing him every day to never again, it’s so sad. I am so sad and heartbroken.”

Police believe it was a mistake or a random act. They don’t have any leads.

The cases can be taxing on police especially as the number of unsolved ones continue racking up.

“Ultimately, it’s the loss of a human life,” said Captain Jeff Rinaldo with the Buffalo Police Department. “These are in important cases.”

There have been 39 homicides in the city this year; Buffalo police have solved eight of them from 2017. They’ve also solved nine from previous years, bringing the total this year to 17 and their clearance rate to 44%.

In 2016, BPD had a 43% rate; an 84% rate in 2015. Their overall average rate sits at 55% while the national average ranges between 60 and 65%.

“When there’s a lack of cooperation, it really makes it difficult,” said Captain Rinaldo.

That’s why many of these cases go unsolved – when witnesses aren’t talking, the leads stop rolling in and the case goes cold.

“When they share information with police, for some reason, it gets back to them and they’re scared I guess,” said Carson.

“They don’t want to be a snitch,” said Patterson, who believes her son’s friends know who killed him.

While it’s frustrating for police, the victim’s family members find it disheartening.

“I get angry [every time another case gets solved],” said Gray. “I don’t have any faith in our system. The fact that the person who took him from us still gets to be free, with their family; still gets to live a free life and live every day like nothing happened even though they took somebody who was loved by so many, it’s not fair.”

“When there’s a murder, there are many victims who are left behind,” explains the captain. “It’s not just the person who died but it’s their family members and friends. The key [to better clearance rates], is the people, the public coming forward and cooperating quickly. If that happens, we can get these cases solved.”


Anyone with information about any of the open homicide cases can confidentially file information here, call the Buffalo Police Confidential tip line at (716) 847-2255, or the Peacemakers at (716) 912-7188.

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