More than half of Southwest Florida’s recent murder cases unsolved

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Forty.

That’s how many murder cases there have been in Southwest Florida in the last nine months. Only 19 of those cases have been solved between seven law enforcement agencies — some of which perform well while others produce dismal results.

The majority of homicides since Oct. 1, 2015 occurred within the jurisdictions of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Myers Police Department. Many of them never resulted in arrest.

LCSO has closed less than 50 percent of the 11 murder cases being investigated by deputies. Five of the 11 cases have been closed, meaning a murder investigation ended in arrest or the death of a lead suspect. FMPD’s rate is more alarming at 27 percent: out of 15 murders, the department has only been able to close four cases.

LEE COUNTY — 11 HOMICIDES, 5 CLOSED CASES. 45% SOLVE RATE.
FORT MYERS POLICE DEPARTMENT — 15 HOMICIDES, 4 CLOSED CASES, 27% SOLVE RATE.
CHARLOTTE — 2 HOMICIDES, 2 CLOSED CASES, 100% SOLVE RATE.
COLLIER — 4 HOMICIDES, 3 CLOSED CASES, 75% SOLVE RATE.
PUNTA GORDA — 2 HOMICIDES, 2 CLOSED CASES, 100% SOLVE RATE.
NAPLES — 2 HOMICIDES, 0 CLOSED CASES, 0% SOLVE RATE.
CAPE CORAL — 4 HOMICIDES, 3 CLOSED CASES, 75% SOLVE RATE.
SANIBEL — 0
MARCO — 0
DESOTO — 0

Two law enforcement agencies with lower murder rates successfully closed each of the two homicide cases: the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Punta Gorda Police Department. There were two homicides in Naples as well, but the Naples Police Department has not solved either of them.

David Grossi, a former FBI officer, said there are at least two reasons why murders go unsolved. The first is the lack of physical evidence — evidence that cannot be altered — like forensics, gunpowder residue and DNA. The other reason law enforcement agencies fail to solve murders is a lack of cooperation from witnesses and victims who often fear retaliation.

Fear of being targeted by known or suspected killers may have influenced the behavior of Deonte Redding’s friends. Redding was murdered outside a home off Summerlin Road in June 2014.

His mother, Angela McClary, said the silence about her son’s murder has been agonizing.

“They were supposed to be my son’s so-called friends,” she said. “The longer you stay out there in silence, is a punishment you are doing to the people that are still living.”

Redding’s half-brother, Zachary Blue, died next to him — both of them found shot to death inside a car. Neither of those murders are included in statistics dating back to October, but McClary has founded an organization, Parents of Murdered Children, to offer support to the families of murder victims. She is hosting a public membership drive at 7 p.m. Thursday at Followers of Christ Fellowship Ministries, located at 2809 Grand Ave. in Fort Myers.

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