FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – When it comes to local crime stories in 2016, the one that may top them all is breaking the record for the most homicides in Allen County in one year. In the end, 48 deaths were ruled homicides. NewsChannel 15 took a look back at the deadly year with Fort Wayne Police and prosecutors.
Of all of 2016 homicides in Allen County, 46 are either currently or were previously under investigation by Fort Wayne Police. Thirteen arrests have been made. These cases will follow police and prosecutors into the new year.
“There are a lot of trials scheduled in January, February, March,” Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander said. “Several of them are homicide cases from the last year.”
That Includes the two men arrested for 2016’s first multiple-homicide. Artavius Richards and Darrell McDaniel were arrested for the deaths of Mohamedtaha Omar, Adam Mekki and Amuhannad Tairab on Lewis Street in February. Richards will be retried after a mistrial in November.
Marcus Dansby will also go to trial in early 2017. He’s accused of the quadruple murder of a mother, two of her children and an unborn child on Holton Avenue in September.
While several homicides remain unsolved, others are considered solved, but no arrests have been made.
“We’ve had some murder suicides, we’ve had some officer involved shootings, shootings that are being cleared as justified,” Fort Wayne Police Deputy Chief Paul Shrawder said.
In all, three of the city’s homicides were cleared as justifiable and three were cleared as exceptional means. That includes if the main suspect is a victim in another homicide.
“Retaliation type responses to certain events,” McAlexander said.
Time and time again police have told the public they need their help to solve these cases. The same message is being echoed at the Prosecutor’s Office because once an arrest is made they need the help of witnesses to bring the suspect to trial.
“Our job is to gather the evidence that we have to put someone in the witness chair to say what they heard, what they saw,” McAlexander said. “That has been the difficulty.”
McAlexander and Shrawder said most of the 2016 homicides were due to gang and drug violence. At least 11 of the deaths were because of domestic issues which is alarming to both of them.
Jacqueline Vanduyn was killed by her live in boyfriend Scott Jordan in April, and police say in May Hector Sustaita was killed by his girlfriend’s ex husband in a murder suicide. Dansby was the boyfriend of one of his victims.
“There are other reasons, in the past several years domestic violence has been maybe more of a reason for two or three,” Shrawder said.
Still more than two dozen homicides in the city remain open including the shootings of teenagers like 14-year-old Nick Scroggins and 15-year-old John Bennett Jr. over the summer. Also, the city’s third multiple homicide of the year remains unsolved. Three people were gunned down at Sports and Spirits Bar in September.
Two homicides occurred outside city limits last year as well. Frank McComber was killed in October. Amber Pasztor admitted to NewsChannel 15 she killed him, but no charges have been filed. Jamie Klein was stabbed to death in New Haven. No arrests have been made.