Rural Bexar County, Texas, recorded 21 homicides in 2008, nearly double the 11 the year before, reports the San Antonio Express-News. There were two other disturbing trends: The number of female victims rose from one in 2007 to nine, and the number of cases classified as capital murder went from one to eight. Capital cases, the only ones in Texas that can result in the death penalty, include slayings involving young children, multiple victims or a killing that occurs in the commission of another serious crime. Fewer than half of the 2008 slayings in the county resulted in an arrest.
Among the victims last year were a man fatally shot by his uncle; a missing 19-year-old woman whose remains were found in a 55-gallon drum; and an 18-year-old man shot and killed just hours before the new year began.
While the final number of family violence incidents in Bexar County last year isn’t yet available, sheriff’s officials said that through October, deputies had responded to 1,575 such incidents, only 10 fewer than the 2007 total. The final 2008 tally, officials said, no doubt will surpass the previous year. The upswing in homicides and family violence, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ino Badillo said, “definitely concerns” authorities, especially without additional resources. Leaders at nonprofits and agencies dedicated to fighting domestic violence also are concerned about what they see as a growing violence problem exacerbated by a worsening economy.