With a surge of homicides early in the year, Richmond County has more than double the number of incidents as this time in 2011.
“I’m concerned about it being so high,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Blaise Dresser. “My hope is that there’s some sort of break.”
There have been 10 homicide cases and two deaths ruled as involuntary manslaughter in 2012.
During the same period in 2011, there were five homicides.
Capt. Scott Peebles said the numbers shouldn’t be alarming. Because the numbers are high does not mean the trend will continue throughout the year, he said.
Generally the department sees about two homicides every month, averaging around 25 each year.
There were 27 homicides last year, a significant drop from 2010 that saw 38 cases, resulting in a shift in resources to handle the increase.
However, in 2010, the homicide totals through March were still less than this year’s by five.
In 2010, investigators saw an increase during the summer and in 2011 it was fall to winter. Peebles said he hopes this year will level out after a higher than average winter.
“In the beginning of this year we had a huge number of homicides back to back,” Peebles said. “But it’s too early to tell where we’re going to be (at the end of the year). We’re higher than we want to be obviously.”
Peebles is taking a leave of absence while he focuses on his campaign for sheriff, but said he feels the department is in capable hands during his absence.
“They are as on top of it as I’ve ever seen any team on top of it,” he said.
The department has a 92 percent solve rate. In 2011, the total solve rate was 78 percent.
The Jan. 16 murder of 16-year-old Kyle Royal is the only case that remains unsolved this year. Royal died after being shot outside of Club Magic, an illegal club operating on Mike Padgett Highway.
“We’re still trying to find people,” Dresser said. “There were so many people at that club that night.”