FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- Families and friends of homicide victims are at their wits’ end. Some have waited months, even years for an arrest in their loved one’s case. So far this year there are 18 unsolved homicides in Fort Wayne. People in the community have become increasingly frustrated.
Larry Gist, President of the NAACP, Jonathan Ray, President of the Urban League, and Pastor Carlton Lynch had a meeting with Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards to come up with solutions Tuesday evening. Then they held a news conference with families of homicide victims to discuss the outcome.
Ahead of the news conference Richards spoke with Newschannel 15 about the concerns within the community. Richards said there are some misunderstandings about how the criminal justice system works and solving homicides could take months.
“At least six months to investigate a homicide,” said Richards. “This is the second week of August. I wouldn’t expect a case to get solved much sooner than that.”
Richards said it is nearly impossible to solve homicides without witnesses. That is why the NAACP and the Urban League is stepping in.
They plan to work with the prosecutor’s office to make witnesses more comfortable speaking up. They also plan to serve as a liaison between the prosecutor’s office and victims’ family members to help facilitate better communication the cases.
“Now the doors are open and the communication is going to be there,” said Larry Gist. “They’re going to try to keep your families informed and give as much information as they can without ruining the case.”
It’s a start, but some people aren’t convinced it will make a difference. Many asked questions about how this would help their particular cases. Others expressed frustration that their voice has been widely ignored by both the police department and prosecutor’s office and don’t believe it will change.
“People are telling you this man killed that person,” said Roderick Parker. “And this man’s name has been mentioned in several homicides… and you aren’t even bringing this person in and putting them in that little room and getting some answers out of him?”
Overall the people said they want the police and prosecutors department to talk with them more about their cases. They are hoping to see a change soon.
“At the end of the day we are trying something different,” said Jonathan Ray. “Because clearly going down the road we have been going down hasn’t been as effective as we like.”