James Dale Ritchie, 40, was a promising athlete whose life had been lost to narcotics. He was killed by other officers after ambushing an Anchorage cop in his patrol car. His gun has been linked to five homicides in July and August in the Alaska city. Ritchie once wrote to a judge, “I’ve ruined my life.”
Officer Jason Stockley is charged with murder in the December 2011 shooting of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, following a high-speed chase. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says new video evidence suggests that a silver handgun found in Smith’s vehicle may have been planted by Stockley, whose DNA was found on the weapon.
The findings confirm a trend reported in a National Institute of Justice study. “The homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was real and nearly unprecedented,” wrote criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis who looked at homicide data in 56 large cities.
New York’s highest court appears troubled by the use of recorded jail calls as evidence against accused criminals. Attorneys for Pedro Hernandez, scheduled for a second murder trial next month in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz in Manhattan, have moved to bar prosecutors from using jail phone conversations against him.
The Center for Public Integrity said it found an overall 20 percent increase in murder in America’s 10 biggest cities for the first six months of 2016. Nine of the 10 showed gains; New York City was the lone exception. Some wonder whether the increase springs from an increasing population of teens and young adults.
The arrest of two Virginia Tech students in the abduction and murder of a 13-year-old girl who posted on a Facebook group called Teen Dating and Flirting has set off new concerns about the dangers to young people who seek liaisons on social media, the New York Times reports. Students David Eisenhauer, 18, of Columbia, Md., and Natalie Keepers, 19, of Laurel, Md., both aspiring engineers,are being held without bond. They are charged in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell, 13, a liver transplant recipient who disappeared from her home last week. The Times says the murder stunned the college community, though Virginia Tech, the site of a 2007 massacre that was the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, is no stranger to sorrow and tragedy. Stacey Snider, a neighbor of Nicole, said one of her daughters had given law enforcement authorities information that may have played a role in the arrests.
There were 145 homicide victims in Milwaukee last year, the highest total since 1993’s 160. The spike was a nearly 69 percent increase from 2014, an increase higher than the headline-grabbing changes in Baltimore, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The rise in Milwaukee is stark partly because the city recorded one of its lowest totals in a generation in 2014: 86 victims. The question plaguing Milwaukee and other cities with rising homicide totals is the same: Why? “That is the million dollar question,” said Mallory O’Brien, an epidemiologist who leads the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, which analyzes shootings in the city looking for causes and solutions.
The Washington Post published its own calculation and analysis of homicide increases in the largest U..S. cities last year, reported here earlier this week. Homicides in the 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter century. An analysis of preliminary crime data found that about 770 more people were killed in major cities last year than the year before, the worst annual change since 1990. The killings increased as some law enforcement officials and conservative commentators warned that violent crime was on the rise amid a climate of hostility toward police.