Witnesses come forward, nab murder suspect in Dominican Republic

When shots rang out on the 4900 block of Rising Sun Avenue early Wednesday morning, police say a long running feud cost 24-year-old Elis Nova his life. Meanwhile 19-year-old Franklin Estevez was on the run.

"We had several people identify the shooter very quickly," Captain James Clark of the homicide unit told FOX 29.

Police quickly learned Estevez purchased a one way plane ticket to the Dominican Republic and fled the country. Homicide detectives and members of the FBI's gang task force quickly built a case against Estevez as the alleged killer after witnesses cooperated.

"We've been having issues getting witnesses in, but they came forward very strongly and very quickly on this case," Capt. Clark added.

Before Estevez's plane arrived in the Dominican Republic, local and federal investigators notified immigration authorities there. When his plane landed Estevez was immediately detained and flown back to the United States. Hours later he arrived at JFK Airport in New York and was arrested by the NYPD.

"We are in the process right now of going up to New York to bring him down to Philadelphia and officially charge him with murder," Clark explained.

The arrest came as the homicide unit has been taking some heat for the clearance rate, that's the number of arrests detectives make. There were arrests in less than 50% of the homicide cases in 2016. That number was the lowest rate in 15-years.

"We're working day and night around the clock to solve these homicides and we try to bring every one of them in," Clark said. 

Some blame new interrogation rules, a lack of witnesses and a need for more manpower. The city offers a $20,000 reward for each unsolved murder. But only 54 witnesses received rewards since 2013, ranging from $500 to $20,000.

"It is not a lot," Clarke admitted, "We just need them to come forward, do their part, tell us who's done these murders and they'll get their money."

The homicide unit is also about to get a dozen new seasoned detectives in the homicide unit. Captain Clark believes that will help solve more murders.

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