ABC7 Exclusive: Solving Homicides in Chicago

December 12, 2012 (CHICAGO)

ABC7's Ben Bradley has an exclusive look at some surprising information about murder in Chicago.

Police stats show just 34 percent of murders get solved within the calendar year they occur. Give detectives two years, and the solve rate barely reaches 50 percent. That means, if you kill somebody in the city, you've got at least a 50/50 shot of getting away with murder.

Scroll through a list of Chicago's unsolved murders, and you'll find the name and photo of Darius Farley. The 20-year-old was in his car in the Grand Crossing neighborhood when someone shot him, sending his vehicle careening into a CTA bus. The search for his killer or killers has grown cold. Detectives, his mom says, have moved on.

"When I give them information that I hear on the street, no one is following up," said mother Coree Parks. "Or they're not even calling to let me know this is what we're doing."

On average, across the country, 64 percent of murders get solved. New York City's murder clearance rate is 60 percent.

Why is Chicago's so much lower? That's where victims' advocates and police agree: It's a mix of manpower, but also a code of silence that extends from witnesses to, in some cases, even relatives of the deceased.

"They're scared of retaliation," said Dawn Valenti, who works for the United for a Cause organization.

"If we get the information out there from the community, not only will the clearance rate be higher but, more importantly, we're going to take a killer off the street," said Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Tom Byrne.

"We have more difficult homicides today, difficult to solve, because they're stranger on stranger as opposed to domestic violence or a situation where there is a relationship between the victim and the offender," said Loyola Criminologist Robert Lombardo.

It's little comfort to a mom still mourning.

"The people that took his life, I don't wish any ill fate on them. I just want justice for my son," said Coree Parks.

Chicago homicide detectives work in squads of six. They juggle about 20 active case at any one time. It's not ideal, but police brass insist lack of cooperation from witnesses, not manpower, is the main obstacle to solving more murders.

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