Evidence and cooperation helps to solve city homicides

Advances in technology also have aided detectives

By Joe Gorman



Police were able to solve 15 of the city’s 22 2013 homicides, and also six additional homicides last year.

Lt. Doug Bobovnyk of the Detective Bureau credited the high case-closure rate to better preservation of crime scenes and cooperation from witnesses.

Of the seven cases that are not solved, Bobovnyk said there are leads in those cases, and he expects some of those to be solved this year.

“We had good leads, good physical evidence and cooperation from witnesses,” Bobovnyk said.

In 2012, the city had 26 homicides.

Bobovnyk said 2013 saw fewer “street crime” type killings — such as drug- or gang-related violence — and more domestic-related homicides.

He said the strategy adopted by former Chief Rod Foley to target violent groups with increased police presence helped to cut down on the street-crime violence.

Foley was replaced at the beginning of the year by Robin Lees after new Mayor John A. McNally took over.

Bobovnyk compared 2013 with when he was a detective in 1994 and 1995, when the city saw 54 and 68 homicides, respectively. He said back then, detectives never got a break. But because of the decreased number of homicides in 2013, detectives had time to focus on past killings and they were able to solve six homicides from 2011 and 2012.

Another factor for a declining homicide rate is the decrease in population in the city, Bobovnyk said, and also the fact there are a lot of violent criminals who are in jail or prison for a significant period of time.

“That’s big,” Bobovnyk said.

Also, the statistics from 2013 show:

Thirteen of the 22 victims were black males.

Four of the victims were women. Of those four, three were black.

Two infants and a 4-year-old child were among the victims. The last time an infant was a victim of a homicide in the city, according to Vindicator files, was 2007.

Ten of the homicides were on the South Side, while five apiece were on the East and North sides, one was on the West Side and one was in the downtown area near the city water works on West Avenue.

Bobovnyk said advances in technology also have helped detectives, especially preserving DNA and ballistic evidence as well as electronic evidence from cellphones and social media.

Bobovnyk said the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, or the CIRV program, also has worked well. The program, started by Foley, offers a mixture of aggressive policing and social-service programs aimed at people who have been in trouble in the past to steer them out of trouble in the future.

Lees has said he will continue the program during his tenure.

The most frustrating thing in investigating homicides is lack of cooperation from witnesses and sometimes even the victim’s family, Bobovnyk said.

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