Teen Homicides Drop In St. Louis, Though Few Murderers Brought to Justice


Of the 29 people age 13-21 murdered in St. Louis last year, prosecutors have filed charges in just five cases.
  • Of the 29 people age 13-21 murdered in St. Louis last year, prosecutors have filed charges in just five cases.
The St. Louis police department last week returned my public records request looking into teen homicides for 2010. The good news is that the number of juveniles killed in the city dropped last year even as the overall murder rate in the city increased slightly from 143 murders in 2009 to 144 last year.

Last year 21 teenagers (age 13-19) were murdered in St. Louis, accounting for 14.5 percent of all city homicides. That's down from recent years in both the raw number of teen homicides and their percentage of total murders.

As I reported a year ago, 2009 saw 29 teens killed on the streets, accounting for 17 percent of all homicides that year. The percentage was the same in 2008 -- a year in which total homicides spiked to their highest numbers in years (167) -- and 29 teens were killed as a result of violence. It was even worse in 2007 when 31 teenagers (22 percent of all homicides) lost their lives. 

Still, when you add into the equation people age 20 and 21 murdered last year, the percentage of young adult homicides (ages 13-21) jumps to 20 percent of all people killed.

Given Missouri's ranking as the deadliest state in the nation for African-Americans, perhaps it's not that surprising that all 29 people age of 13-21 killed in St. Louis in 2010 were black. And all but five of the victims were male.

Where it gets really pathetic is that of those 29 homicides, prosecutors have only sought charges in five cases. In all those cases the suspect is a black male -- one 15-year-old, two 16-year-olds, a 20-year-old and a 25-year-old.

Last month, St. Louis police chief Dan Isom acknowledged that crime overall dropped in St. Louis last year. Still, he pressed city residents to do more to help themselves.

"I continue to urge citizens to report crimes, to talk to police when you have information about a crime and to assist with prosecutions," said Isom. "The 'stop snitching' mentality has not benefited anyone except for the criminals who avoid arrest or prosecution when victims or witnesses stay silent."

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