D.C. Fails to Tell Many Victims’ Families About Murder Cases Closed Without Arrest


A Washington Post analysis of nearly, 2300 local homicides between 2000 and 2011 found that police closed at least 189 cases without an arrest — 15 percent of the 1,288 total closures, the newspaper says in the second of a series. Cases solved without an arrest are known as “administrative,” or “304.1s ,” after the section in the police general orders that refers to the procedure. They are counted the same as an arrest in closure statistics, which are the main measuring stick for homicide detectives and police chiefs.

Without an arrest or trial, families of victims can be left wondering what happened. Of 11 families in administrative closure cases interviewed, only two said they had been told by police that the case had been closed. Even concerted efforts to find out details can be difficult. The Post found that case files turned over under public records requests often lacked information about the closing, sometimes because of departmental policy on confidential documents or secrecy rules governing federal grand juries. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said officers “are required to notify the next of kin of a case closure.” She said no documentation indicating notification was found in four cases cited the Post that occurred between 2001 and 2003. “We are now making attempts to locate and notify the next of kin,” she said.

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