Cape homicide rate low despite shootings

Sunday, February 24, 2008

For its population, Cape Girardeau's homicide rate is rather low.

If you go by the standard one homicide for every 10,000 people, there should be between three and four per year, according to police statistics, but in 2007, there were none within city limits and just one the year before.

So far in February, there have been two fatal shootings in eight days.

On Feb. 15, Zachary Snyder, 23, was shot and killed by a state fugitive apprehension agent serving a warrant at a Themis Street apartment complex.

Then, in the early morning hours Friday, Chabreshea Egson, 20, was shot at her 1523 N. Spanish St. home and later died of her injuries at a hospital.

Both homicides are still under investigation by Cape Girardeau police.

"These might be the only two we have the rest of the year," said John E. Wade, chairman of the department of criminal justice and sociology at Southeast Missouri State University.

Because crime statistics are measured annually, it is often hard to identify true patterns and gauge whether there is an actual increase because homicides often occur in clusters, said Wade.

"We've gone years with no murders," said Sgt. Barry Hovis, spokesman for the police department.

No community is exempt from these types of crimes, but the city has been fortunate to have spans of time without any homicides, he said.

Homicides are one of the toughest crimes to prevent, because they usually occur in the privacy of someone's residence, Wade said.

Generally, more homicides occur during summer months, both because heat and humidity can lead to short tempers, and because there are more people outside during warmer weather, so the potential for more altercations exists, Wade said.

Suicides have a tendency to spike in December and January, he said.

On Dec. 16, a murder-suicide in Perryville, Mo., left three dead and one injured after Jerry Moore, 68, of Perryville, shot his wife Diane Moore, 55, and two men, Allen Kennon and Dennis Stanfill, before turning the gun on himself. Kennon was taken to the hospital and treated for the gunshot wound. The other three were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Perryville shooting closely followed a murder-suicide in Jackson, when Mir Shahin Moshiri killed his four-year-old daughter, Madison Moshiri, and shot his stepson, Michael Jeffers, two-year-old daughter, Meghan Moshiri, and wife Katherine before taking his own life. Jeffers later died as a result of his injuries.

When similar crimes occur within proximity of one another, experts can theorize that there may be a connection, but it's often pure speculation, Wade said.

Because most of these homicides end with the shooter taking their own life, like in school shootings, there is seldom an opportunity to interview them and explore their motivation. One theory is that people may have a propensity or an idea to commit violence, and seeing someone else carry it out may take them over the edge, Wade said.

The Egson homicide investigation is being handled by the Cape Girardeau-Bollinger County Major Case Squad. The last time the case squad, made up of officers from the Cape Girardeau, Jackson, and university police departments, the state police and Cape Girardeau and Bollinger County Sheriff's departments, was activated was in response to the July 27 murder of Michael Strong. Strong's girlfriend, Lisa A. Barlow, was arrested and charged with the crime. The case squad made the arrest after fewer than 100 hours of investigating the homicide.

The case squad was formed in 1983 in response to a series of unsolved murders that plagued Cape Girardeau in 1977 and 1982, according to the Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney Web site.

The case squad works on the premise that most homicides must be solved within the first 48 hours or they may not be solved at all, allowing local law enforcement agencies to pool investigative resources to conduct an immediate "saturation investigation."

335-6611, extension 245

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: