CLEVELAND, Ohio — Yearly homicide totals in Cleveland continued to seesaw in 2013, dropping more than 11 percent from last year’s totals, which themselves were a 30 percent jump over 2010 numbers.
Cleveland Police officially recorded 86 homicides in its borders as of Monday, down from 97 in 2012. In 2010, the city recorded 77 killings, while in 2007 there were 134.
“While it is good that we’ve had fewer homicides this year, I’m not happy that so many people lost their lives to violence,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said through a spokeswoman. “Each and every homicide has an impact on our community.”
Countywide, homicides inched up this year – the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office is projecting 130 in 2013, up from 122 last year. The medical examiner’s office counted 80 Cleveland residents among its homicide deaths.
Police, who use FBI guidelines in reporting crime, only tally killings deemed intentional as homicides. The medical examiner does not determine who is at fault in its statistic gathering.
The year’s youngest victim officially ruled a homicide is also the most recent case. Monday, the medical examiner’s office ruled the Friday death of 3-year-old Bryson Marshall a homicide by blunt force trauma to the head, neck, trunk and extremities. Police arrested Marshall’s father over the weekend on felony child endangerment charges.
The figures, which will likely not be finalized until the spring, do not include cases the medical examiner’s office has not officially ruled on, including the deaths of Peaches Christburg, 2, and Glacia Ramsey, 7, two girls killed in a South Collinwood house fire Dec. 12, which police and fire officials are investigating as an arson. No arrest has been made.
Many of the investigations remain open and unsolved, including the mysterious stabbing of 53-year-old Aliza Sherman at 75 Erieview Square downtown. Sherman, a fertility nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, was found bleeding badly outside her divorce attorney’s office about 5:30 p.m. March 24, still with her purse.
Police are also still investigating Matthew Huffman’s shooting death near the West Park RTA Station, and the shooting of Cleveland Fire Lt. William Walker in the driveway of his East Side home. Police suspect Huffman was shot during an attempted robbery Dec. 10. Neighbors heard yelling outside Walker’s Lampson Road home Nov. 3, followed by five gunshots.
The numbers also include cases that have been closed, like the Jan. 4 shooting of Abou Kane at his East Side storefront, Well Fashion. Bernard Richardson was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery with firearm specifications.
The year’s first homicide came just hours into the New Year, and is among those still making their way through court. Police found Nathan Brown on his Hilgert Avenue porch about 2:30 a.m. with a shotgun wound to his right thigh. He eventually bled to death.
Brothers Marcellus and Montell Smith, 22 and 19 respectively, are awaiting trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on aggravated murder charges in Brown’s death.
Men are facing charges in the shooting deaths of Diana Fields-Edmonds and Mustafa McWhorter, as well. Police said Fields-Edmonds, 38, was shot inside a car and her body was pushed out onto East 83rd Street near Woodland Avenue Dec. 21. Her husband, 35-year-old Antonio Hicks, who police said was driving the car, was arrested and is facing murder charges.
McWhorter was 18 when he was shot and killed outside the Eastman Branch of the Cleveland Public Library May 29. Police arrested Allance Legrone and Rondell Foster on aggravated murder warrants in the July killing. Their trial is ongoing.
This year also saw prominent slayings of three transgender women – two of them on consecutive days.
The body of Cemia “Ce Ce” Dove, born Carl Akoff, was found floating in a retention pond in Olmsted Township in April. Authorities eventually arrested and charged Andrey Bridges of Parma, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in November.
Cleveland Police are still investigating the deaths of 52-year-old Betty Skinner and 22-year-old Brittany Stergis. Skinner, who was physically disabled, was found beaten to death in her bed at Deaconess-Krafft Center in Old Brooklyn on Dec. 5. The next day, police found Stergis, born Laron Kidd, shot in the head inside a car on West 25th Street, west of the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway.
Police do not believe the killings are related, but Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said the department is treating the crimes as “acts of hate.”
Historically, the city’s 2013 homicide rate is a marked drop from highs in the 1970s. The city’s homicide record came in 1972, when 333 people were slayed inside city limits. But with a population of more than 750,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the homicide rate was 44.34 per 100,000 residents – more than double this year’s rate at 22.05.
Here are some additional statistics about homicides in Cleveland in 2013.
- Someone was killed in Cleveland every 4.3 days in 2013.
- Nearly 85 percent (73) were done with a gun.
- Nearly 80 percent (67) of the victims were men.
- The average homicide victim was 30.6 years old.
- Victims ranged in age from 3 to 59 years old.
- Three victims were shot and killed while at work.
- Longest span between homicides was 24 days, from May 29 through June 22.
- Deadliest span saw seven homicides in eight days, from Dec. 5 through Dec. 13.
- Deadliest month was December, with 15 homicides.
- Least deadly month was June, with a single homicide.
- Average monthly homicide total was 7.1.