Open murder cases are open wounds for Philly
Monique Irvis opens a curio cabinet in her Southwest Philadelphia home that holds a shrine to her son, Eric Woods. The 19-year-old was gunned down in 2007 as two of his friends looked on.
“We have that suspect, but we’re still stuck because we can’t touch him,” Irvis said. “And, in my heart, I know his friends know.”
Irvis raised a $5,000 reward for information leading to Woods’ killer. “I ran into so many people with the same situation,” she said.
Philadelphia had 3,405 murders from the beginning of 2002 through the end of 2011 — 10 years’ bloodshed — and 1,104 of them remain unsolved, according to crime statistics compiled by Scripps News and clearance rates provided by the Philadelphia police department to Metro for the years 2009 to 2011.
For families and friends left behind, each is unbearable. “I just exist,” Irvis said. “I’m not here like I used to be.”
And reward offerings aren’t always enough when the motivation for keeping quiet is fear. “I wound up taking it down because it seemed like there was no point,” Irvis said. “There’s nothing that’s going to make them talk.”
But John McNesby of the Fraternal Order of Police, which is putting up a $5,000 reward for the Old City beating death of Kevin Kless to accompany the $10,000 announced by the city yesterday, said that the money does lead to more arrests, though it isn’t something the organization does often.
“The public outcry and brutality of the facts led us to do a reward,” he said. “It’s not that we view one homicide over another — all are tragic.”
Community still in fear
Irvis said that she would like to believe things have changed since 2007, when murders for the year hit 392.
But she still sees criminals in her neighborhood drifting in and out of jail and community members keeping tight-lipped. “I have one son left and I live in fear every day,” she said.
No leads yet in Kless death
Police are still looking for a break in the now 4-day-old brutal murder of Kless, 23, who was beaten to death by three men after a traffic dispute at 2:25 a.m. Saturday while out with two friends.
Decade of death
Here’s a closer look at 10 years’ worth of murders.
The deadliest year from the beginning of 2002 to the end of 2011 was 2006, when 407 people were murdered. Police cleared 226 of those murders.
The least deadly was 2002 when 288 people were murdered. Police cleared 231 of those murders.
In five of the 10 years, homicide detectives cleared between 226 and 231 murders. Detectives solved between 215 and 248 in all 10 years.