EDMONTON — Edmonton recorded 30 homicides in 2015, and of those nearly half have yet to be solved.
As of Dec. 30, police have “cleared” 18 of the 30 homicides of the year. A cleared investigation means charges have been laid, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of a suspect or the person they believe was responsible died before charges could be laid. Twelve homicides, or 40 per cent, have yet to be solved.
“Homicide investigations sometimes can take months or years. They’re very extensive. They require generally a full team, seven or eight detectives working them and pushing the file,” said Staff Sgt. Shawna Grimes with the Edmonton Police Service’s homicide unit.
Edmonton homicide detectives have cleared less cases in 2015 than 2014, when 85 per cent of the files had been cleared, due in part to not laying charges in any 2015 homicides until July Grimes said.
“That’s unusual. Usually by halfway through the year, you’ll see that we’ve already laid charges on some active investigations and at that time we’d had no, I’ll call them smoking gun for lack of a better word, so no files where police have showed up and our accused was still there or found within a day or two very quickly,” Grimes said.
Of the 30 homicides, police said 19 of the victims were men and 11 were women.
Three of this year’s homicides were spousal-related and all have been solved. While that’s on par with the number of domestic-related homicides in 2014, Grimes said domestic violence is on the rise in Alberta.
Of the 18 homicides that have been cleared, 14 of the victims knew the suspect, according to police.
Ten of this year’s homicides were gang or drug-related.
Of the homicides recorded this year, about 87 per cent involved some sort of a weapon. A gun was used in about 46 per cent of the deaths, according to Grimes. While that number is about average, police are seeing more gun violence in general on the streets of Edmonton, Grimes added.
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Grimes said there isn’t one part of the city that saw more violence than any other and that homicides were pretty spread out.
Overall, Grimes said 2015 was an average year for homicides.
“We had such a huge population growth in the city of Edmonton over the last, I think we could probably trace it back maybe even five years, Whether that slows down or not will be interesting as to how it impacts policing, but also people losing their jobs certainly impacts us and can make us a lot busier.”
But Grimes expects the number of homicides in 2015 to rise. There are still another 26 files that homicide detectives are investigating that have yet to be determined a homicide or otherwise.
“Those are investigations that homicide section takes and treats as a homicide, and they would be something like a suspicious missing persons where we haven’t located the body but feel in all likelihood something has happened to that person,” she explained.
In 2014, Edmonton saw 35 homicides, which Grimes said was a bit higher than average.
Grimes said there were 29 homicides in Edmonton in 2013 and 30 in 2012.
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