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The Victims Behind the Numbers

Chicago identified 21 people who were killed in the city last year but whose cases are not counted as 2014 murders by the Chicago Police Department. Independent crime experts and longtime current and former Chicago detectives we interviewed believe that all these cases should count, given the rules of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. Here are seven of the tricks that sources say the department may have used to keep its 2014 murder numbers down.

 

Trick 1?

Exclude killings between “mutual combatants” or by people who police say were acting in self-defense

Danny Melendez

  • Age: 38
  • Died: January 30
  • Where: Belmont Cragin (West Side)
  • Details: Melendez received a fatal stab wound in the leg during a violent altercation with a woman in a basement apartment. She was never charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal1: No case listed

Joe Huff Jr.

  • Age: 86
  • Died: April 25
  • Where: Gresham (South Side)
  • Details: Huff’s next-door neighbor, an off-duty cop, pumped seven bullets into the back of Huff after Huff allegedly shot at the cop’s wife. The cop was never charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: As an aggravated battery

Rickey Hayes

  • Age: 56
  • Died: May 3
  • Where: Grand Crossing (South Side)
  • Details: An argument with another man outside that man’s house resulted in him stabbing Hayes to death. The man has not been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: As an aggravated battery

Youman McKenzie

  • Age: 23
  • Died: December 23
  • Where: Homan Square (West Side)
  • Details: McKenzie died during a shootout in front of a bar. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: As criminal damage to a vehicle (seriously)
1According to Superintendent Garry McCarthy, every crime incident appears on the city’s public data portal. The homicides listed on the portal should be the same as the ones that the CPD submits for the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
 

Trick 2?

Omit killings by people who kill while committing another crime

Sharon Bonds

  • Age: 54
  • Died: June 24
  • Where: Pill Hill (South Side)
  • Details: Someone carjacked Bonds’s Pontiac, ran her over, and dragged her to her death. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed
 

Trick 3?

Exclude fatal heart attacks that follow beatings

Michael Tingling

  • Age: 59
  • Died: March 19
  • Where: Rogers Park (North Side)
  • Details: Shortly after a man beat him up, Tingling died from a heart-related cause. The suspect is on trial for first-degree murder and a hate crime.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: As an aggravated battery

Dorothy McGhee

  • Age: 58
  • Died: March 25
  • Where: Bronzeville (South Side)
  • Details: McGhee died from a heart-related condition right after a young man she had taken in allegedly pummeled her. The suspect is on trial for first-degree murder.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed
 

Trick 4?

Backdate “delayed homicides”: people who die of old injuries or who were killed long before their bodies turn up

Latashia Nevitt

  • Age: 32
  • Found: March 5
  • Where: Morgan Park (South Side)
  • Details: Nevitt had been missing for more than two years before her remains were found stuffed into a sewer. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: As a 2011 murder

Anthony Higgins

  • Age: 53
  • Died: March 18
  • Where: Austin (West Side)
  • Details: Higgins died due to complications from a 1987 gunshot wound. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No crime listed (the portal only goes back to 2001)

Milan Lekich

  • Age: 51
  • Found: October 5
  • Where: Hegewisch (South Side)
  • Details: Lekich vanished a year before his chopped-up body was discovered in a garage.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: As a 2013 murder

Five more victims

  • fall into this category, according to information supplied by the CPD; a spokesman didn’t respond to Chicago’s request for details.
 

Trick 5?

Exclude murders that happen on expressways

Jasmine Curry

  • Age: 25
  • Died: July 9
  • Where: Dan Ryan Expressway near 59th Street (South Side)
  • Details: Someone fatally shot Curry in the head as she was driving. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed. (The state of Illinois, which patrols most Chicago expressways, counted it.)
 

Trick 6?

List murders internally but don’t count them publicly

Revester Davis

  • Age: 51
  • Died: August 15
  • Where: Gresham (South Side)
  • Details: Police found Davis’s charred body in the back seat of his incinerated SUV; fire officials say the blaze began in the front. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed

Sherita Smith

  • Age: 46
  • Died: August 15
  • Where: Gresham (South Side)
  • Details: A half-naked Smith was found burning alive under her own vehicle. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed

Dimitre Beck

  • Age: 21
  • Died: September 20
  • Where: Englewood (South Side)
  • Details: Beck was stabbed to death in the street by someone police say he was trying to rob. No one has been charged.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed

Steven LaVoie

  • Age: 55
  • Died: October 13
  • Where: The Loop (downtown)
  • Details: He was shot on July 31 by a disgruntled employee who then committed suicide.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: No case listed
 

Trick 7?

Hide cases altogether

Daniel Jackson

  • Age: 42
  • Died: October 9
  • Where: Englewood (South Side)
  • Details: Jackson was inside a house with another man when that man got in a shootout with cops outside. A close-range gunshot killed Jackson. The other man is on trial for first-degree murder.
  • How counted on the city’s public data portal: Case not listed; nor is it on CPD’s internal murder list.

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