Total 2012 Rockford murders down from 2011 - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Total 2012 Rockford murders down from 2011

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Scene of Garner & Hatchett murders, 1100 block of Cunningham St. Scene of Garner & Hatchett murders, 1100 block of Cunningham St.
Scene of Gravino murder, 200 block of Smith Ave Scene of Gravino murder, 200 block of Smith Ave

As 2012 comes to a close, chilling cases of violent crime remain open. We're talking about the deaths around Rockford that will most likely go into 2013, unsolved.

Killings are decreasing from last year. There were 22 total in 2011. But, investigators also solved more of those 2011 murders. Only nine stayed open.

"During the year of 2012 so far in Rockford, we've had 14 murder incidents. Of those 14 murder incidents, eight of them have been solved and six of them are unsolved at this point in time." -says Rockford Police Department Lieutenant Marc Welsh.

In January, the first case of the year claimed the life of 51-year-old Stefan Gravino. Investigators believe Gravino was dead for days after being shot down before his body was discovered in the 200 block of Smith Avenue, near Swedish American Hospital. Through the Spring and Summer seasons, brutal crime stayed quiet, but it came back strong in the fall. Five deaths in three months, starting with 85-year-old Ocie Hughes at the end of September at 2115 Martha Avenue on Rockford's South side.

"She was just the sweet woman on the block, all the kids would say hi to her and nothing should have happened to that woman." -recalled Hughes's neighbor Dixie Hackler the day of Hughes's death.

Investigators say there was evidence of trauma to Hughes's body. A month later, across the river in the 1100 block of Cunningham Street, police discovered two bodies in a fourplex apartment building. They were brothers James Garner and James Hatchett. Two days later, a fight at the former San Jose Night Club resulted in multiple vehicle accidents, shots fired, and deaths. 26-year-old C.L. Phillips died after the fact from critical car crash injuries. 22-year-old Antonio Smart was also in that vehicle, but he had gunshot wounds, and it's still unclear from the autopsy what caused him to die.

Lt. Marc Welsh says Rockford police continue pushing to solve these cases, "until a point in time that all the leads are exhausted. So we follow-up on every lead we possibly can until we have no more leads at that point in time." -he says.

If you have any information on these cases or others you're encouraged to call the Rockford Police Department or CrimeStoppers.

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