Omaha Police: Homicide Numbers Hit 20 Year Low

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer announced Wednesday afternoon that homicide numbers are at a twenty year low this year, with just 22 homicides to date. 

Since the city hasn’t seen a homicide since September, some believe cold cases should get more eyes. Buffy Bush-Porter lost her sister Jamelia Hesseltine to murder in September 2011. Hesseltine’s two sons discovered her body and the body of Hesseltine’s significant other.

Now, more than seven years later, Bush-Porter tells 6 News that her sister’s case remains unsolved. “I have one nephew wanting to grow up to be a police officer himself, so he can solve his own mother’s murder."

Hesseltine’s case is one of about 300 cold cases detectives are still following up on and Deputy Chief Ken Kanger tells 6 News, it’s one of about 300 cases detectives want closed. “It’s difficult. All those families want closure. They want their cases solved, and we want to solve them all."

Dep. Chief Kanger says each homicide case is different, and the length of time before it’s handed over to the department’s cold case squad varies per case. “If new information comes up, maybe it’s forensic, maybe it’s a new witness, new technology, then the cold case squad will adopt that and re-investigate it."

Since the city hasn’t seen a homicide since September, some victim’s families wonder even more what’s being done to solve their loved ones’ cases. Omaha police said cold cases are always a little more difficult, and they encourage families to call the department with any concerns they may have.

“If anything, if we don’t have enough to reopen it, we don’t have enough evidence to reopen it or new technology and things, we can at least explain this process,” Dep. Chief Kanger said. “We’re still going to look into them, and we’re going to work as hard as we can on all of them. But some of those that have more physical evidence, more witnesses and things of that nature are going to take a precedence.”

The homicide unit, though, is having a great year thus far. Chief Schmaderer told community leaders Wednesday afternoon at an Omaha 360 meeting that the department has a homicide clearance rate of 90 percent this year, meaning 90 percent of homicide cases have been solved.

“That does include some cases that were solved from previous years,” Dep. Chief Kanger said. “We’re higher than the national average. Our homicide unit is doing an exceptional job at solving those cases, but they’re not doing them alone. They’re doing it with cooperation from the community and the information that they provide us. All those cases that haven’t been solved yet are constantly being worked, so we can get them to that point.”

The detectives in all units at the police department investigate all crimes and work tirelessly to solve them all, but for some, time has already left behind permanent damage. “The efforts of his detectives?” Bush-Porter said. “I have no faith in them or respect.”

Bush-Porter told 6 News, though, a detective with the department does call her every year on the anniversary of her sister’s death to update her on where detectives stand on the case.

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