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Homicide Cases Fall from 2012, Remain Above Average

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Police investigated 12 homicide cases in Springfield in 2013 and that number is down from 16 cases in 2012.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Police investigated 12 homicide cases in Springfield in 2013 and that number is down from 16 cases in 2012.

But it's still too high for Police Chief Paul Williams.

"It's become an increasing more violent society and that's unfortunate, we see that in increase in aggravated assaults and armed robberies, but also in homicides," he said.

The cases are very spread out geographically.

The motives behind the murders are also very different.

Williams said homicides fall under four general categories.

"It's someone involved in criminal activity or it's someone involved in drug activity or it's someone involved in a gang or it's someone involved in a bad domestic relationship," he said.

He said the rise in domestic violence is the most alarming.

"The occurrences and the severity," he said.

But it could also be the most preventable.

"It's very common for people to ignore or minimize or overlook some of the warning signs," Executive Director of the Victim Center Brandi Bartel said.

"Trying to assess that early on and prevent that from escalating is really the key," Williams said.

Williams said his department is focusing on preventing the crimes, like domestic violence, which lead to homicide.

"So doing the same thing with general crime or drug activity, the more we can do on the front end, we reduce the risk that it might escalate into violence at some point," he said.

Homicide numbers in Springfield have been above average, but Williams said they're trending down.

And that it's important to have perspective.

"I consider us the hub of Southwest Missouri, I mean we're the focal point for 150 miles around," he said, "When you compare us to those types of cities, man, this is a great place to be."

There haven't been any homicides in Springfield so far this year.

In 2013 in Greene County there were two cases, one of which remains open.

There has been one homicide in 2014.

The fatal shooting of 60-year-old Jackie Swearingin is still an open investigation in Greene County.
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