Tulsa And Nation Deal With More Unsolved Killings

Monday, December 29th 2008, 4:49 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Unsolved murders are on the rise across the country and that trend is also true in Tulsa.  Despite DNA and other new crime-fighting technology, more people are getting away with murder.

In 1963, 91% of America's murder cases were solved.  Last year, 61% of them were.

One murder happened around Thanksgiving in Tulsa and is still unsolved.  Michael Thomas lived in Coffeyville, Kansas, but was found shot to death in the middle of a south Tulsa street at 6 a.m.

Tulsa Police learned Thomas and two men known only as J.J. and Blue had been on their way to go get dope when Thomas was shot and dumped.  Detectives say one reason murders are harder to solve these days is because of the randomness of drug deals and gang killings, where there is no real relationship or motive.

Another reason is the no snitch attitude that keeps people from talking to police.

"These national studies always like to reach back to the early 60's when society was different. Everybody talked to police.  It was a simple thing, husband kills wife, some tragedy like that. Now, we're dealing with gangbangers and drug people," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Mike Huff.

Police say DNA is a great tool, but it's certainly not the end-all, be-all it appears in TV shows.

In real life, it takes months to get back test results and while Tulsa detectives have gotten three or four hits on cold cases, it's only after a great deal of legwork.

"DNA just confirms what good detective work finds out.  We have to develop a suspect, a motive and confirm it with DNA," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Mike Huff.

Tulsa's solve rate is above the national average. We've had 54 murders so far in 2008.  All but 15 are solved, which is a clearance rate of 73%.

Still, that is down from past years and you add in the increased expectations from the public, families, brass and the DA's office and it's a double whammy of pressure for detectives.

Sergeant Huff says all the homicide detectives and all the CSIs will meet during the second week of January to review the 15 unsolved cases from 2008 to go over all the witnesses, suspects and lab results, to see what can be done to move them to the solved column.