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HomeNewsArchivesPOLICE HAVE SOLVED MOST MURDER CASES SINCE '88

POLICE HAVE SOLVED MOST MURDER CASES SINCE '88

The V.I. Police Department track record in solving murders over the last 12 years is not as discouraging as many citizens may believe. Statistics for the St. Thomas-St. John district provided to the Source on Friday by the Major Crime Unit paint a more encouraging picture than the one portrayed in a six-story report by the Virgin Islands Daily News on April 21 titled "Absence of Justice."
Within the depatment's Investigation Bureau is a team of investigators whose focus is primarily on solving murders — the Major Crime Unit. The head of the unit, Sgt. Reynald Fraser, reviewed the case files of murders recorded since 1988 in the St. Thomas-St. John District with the Source, including how many are considered cleared or solved.
Fraser said the Police Department considers a case "cleared" when an arrest is recorded or when a warrant is issued. He noted that sometimes months can pass between the time a warrant is issued and the subsequent arrest is recorded, especially if the suspect is off-island.
Between 1988 and last Friday in the St. Thomas-St. John district, he said, of 189 murders committed, 36 remain "open and under active investigation."
He provided the following annual statistics for the district:
1988 — 18 murders, 18 cleared
1989 — 15 murders, 14 cleared
1990 –14 murders, 13 cleared
1991– 16 murders, 14 cleared
1992 — 15 murders, 13 cleared
1993 — 14 murders, 11 cleared
1994 — 25 murders, 21 cleared
1995 — 14 murders, 11 cleared
1996 — 12 murders, 10 cleared
1997 — 14 murders, 10 cleared
1998 — 13 murders, 11 cleared
1999 — 15 murders, 7 cleared
2000 — 4 murders, 0 cleared
Deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents are not included in the homicide count.
Police officers say the biggest problem they confront in investigating homicides is a lack of cooperation by members of the community who have information that could lead to the arrest of suspects. One investigator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added, "The flip side is, sometimes when we get an arrest, a witness clams up and is unable to see the case through. There is the fear of repercussion."
Investigators declined to comment on the infrastructural problems the department faces, including lack of training, equipment and money to cover overtime costs. Regardness, they said, they remain committed to "taking on each case and working it until it can be cleared."
Major Crime Unit members said Friday they will continue to investigate all cases that are open, or unsolved. They again appealed to the public to come forward with information that "can take criminals off the streets."
Anyone with information about any pending case is asked to call the Major Crime Unit at 774-2196, the Investigation Bureau at 774-4050 or the emergency police number 911. Any information submitted will be held in confidence, the investigators emphasized.

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The V.I. Police Department track record in solving murders over the last 12 years is not as discouraging as many citizens may believe. Statistics for the St. Thomas-St. John district provided to the Source on Friday by the Major Crime Unit paint a more encouraging picture than the one portrayed in a six-story report by the Virgin Islands Daily News on April 21 titled "Absence of Justice."
Within the depatment's Investigation Bureau is a team of investigators whose focus is primarily on solving murders -- the Major Crime Unit. The head of the unit, Sgt. Reynald Fraser, reviewed the case files of murders recorded since 1988 in the St. Thomas-St. John District with the Source, including how many are considered cleared or solved.
Fraser said the Police Department considers a case "cleared" when an arrest is recorded or when a warrant is issued. He noted that sometimes months can pass between the time a warrant is issued and the subsequent arrest is recorded, especially if the suspect is off-island.
Between 1988 and last Friday in the St. Thomas-St. John district, he said, of 189 murders committed, 36 remain "open and under active investigation."
He provided the following annual statistics for the district:
1988 -- 18 murders, 18 cleared
1989 -- 15 murders, 14 cleared
1990 --14 murders, 13 cleared
1991-- 16 murders, 14 cleared
1992 -- 15 murders, 13 cleared
1993 -- 14 murders, 11 cleared
1994 -- 25 murders, 21 cleared
1995 -- 14 murders, 11 cleared
1996 -- 12 murders, 10 cleared
1997 -- 14 murders, 10 cleared
1998 -- 13 murders, 11 cleared
1999 -- 15 murders, 7 cleared
2000 -- 4 murders, 0 cleared
Deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents are not included in the homicide count.
Police officers say the biggest problem they confront in investigating homicides is a lack of cooperation by members of the community who have information that could lead to the arrest of suspects. One investigator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added, "The flip side is, sometimes when we get an arrest, a witness clams up and is unable to see the case through. There is the fear of repercussion."
Investigators declined to comment on the infrastructural problems the department faces, including lack of training, equipment and money to cover overtime costs. Regardness, they said, they remain committed to "taking on each case and working it until it can be cleared."
Major Crime Unit members said Friday they will continue to investigate all cases that are open, or unsolved. They again appealed to the public to come forward with information that "can take criminals off the streets."
Anyone with information about any pending case is asked to call the Major Crime Unit at 774-2196, the Investigation Bureau at 774-4050 or the emergency police number 911. Any information submitted will be held in confidence, the investigators emphasized.