CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - Only about a third of the homicides in the violence-wracked suburban Philadelphia city of Chester are ever solved, a newspaper reported.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that its analysis of every homicide indicates that authorities closed about one-third of the city's 323 slayings since 2000, which include the killing of an officer -- about half the national average and among the lowest in the nation.
The homicide rate in the four-mile-square city of 34,000 averages 53 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2014, outranking all U.S. cities in that span for which data is available, the paper said.
That's more than double Philadelphia's homicide rate of 21 per 100,000 and slightly more than Camden, New Jersey's 52 and New Orleans' 47. (The figures don't include cities that failed to consistently report their homicide data to the FBI).
Although the level of arrests in homicide cases has slipped nationally over decades, analysts said other cities have found ways to improve. In Chester, officials cite a spiral of joblessness and poverty after the collapse of the manufacturing base, followed by drugs, gangs, a lack of resources for police and a pervasive "no snitch" culture.
"The vast majority of homicides, we have a real good idea who did it," said Joe Ryan, chief of the county's Criminal Investigation Division. "We just don't have the evidence or the cooperation."
In May, Eunice Durnell's 14-year-old godson, Zenas Powell, was hit by stray bullets outside a corner store. Police said he wasn't the intended target. He was the fourth member of Durnell's extended family slain in Chester in two years, including her sister, a nephew and a cousin. None of the slayings have been solved.
"That's how it is (in Chester)," said Durnell, 56, a nurse. "You can end up dead at any time . . . And the (killers)? Well, they're still walking around."