Letter: More reward money needed for murder info

Graphic by Lori Deaton

On gun violence in Asheville: In recent news reports on gun violence and the mayor’s proclamation about it, a letter was mentioned by [Asheville City Council member] Vijay Kapoor as being the only one he had received on the murder of Derrick LaQuinn Lee Jr. That letter was written by me and published by Mountain Xpress [“Where is the Outrage for Derrick?” Aug. 8].

Mr. Kapoor also noted that he had raised a $2,000 reward for info on the murderer [of the current $5,000 reward total]. Think about that: only $2,000.

With all the tourist, hotel, real estate, bar and restaurant money flooding this area, only a very small reward was collected, and to be honest, I have seen similar amounts offered for a lost pet. The police commented about how they were getting no help from people in the area. Did anyone ever consider that if someone talked to the Asheville Police Department, their lives would be in danger and they would have to move for safety reasons? Two thousand dollars would not be anywhere enough for that.

I am writing this letter to ask those who are making a lot of money here and others to donate to this reward and also consider helping set up a large reward fund to be used in all serious gun violence cases.

— John Penley
Asheville

Editor’s note: Community members can call Asheville-Buncombe Crime Stoppers anonymously to offer a tip at 828-255-5050 and still be eligible for a reward, according to its website (avl.mx/5fl). The reward amount for information on the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Derrick LaQuinn Lee Jr. on July 1 in Asheville is currently $5,000.

In a subsequent email, Penley asked how many unsolved homicides there have been in Asheville over the past several years. Xpress contacted Asheville Police Department spokeswoman Christina Hallingse, who provided statistics on homicides encompassing the full calendar years for 2013-17 and year-to-date numbers for 2018. She wrote via email: “There have been a total of 50 homicides during this roughly five-year period. Of the 50, 11 cases remain open and under further investigation. That is a closure rate of 78 percent for homicides, which is higher than the national average. In the FBI’s latest Unified Crime Report [avl.mx/5fq], they list clearance rates for murder/nonnegligent manslaughter in 2017 at 61.6 percent.”

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2 thoughts on “Letter: More reward money needed for murder info

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Why did the Housing Authority of Asheville not supply their own security ? ? ? What has Gene Bell done to change his operations ? ? ? NO accountability from these abhorrent leeches.

  2. Buncombe Resident

    Did the local police mean to say that they have solved 78% of all our recent crimes of murder? It sure sounds like that that is the impression they mean to give. But we read the words “closure rate”. Closure and clearance=unsolved with no further investigation. It is a bad thing, not a good thing. It is the opposite of “closure” for survivors. It is jargon from the Uniform Crime Reporting database, and it means the opposite of what a person understands the words “closed” and “cleared” to mean. Clearance or closure means police did not arrest anyone, or they arrested and did not charge, or they did charge but the person or persons were not tried, and, most importantly, it means no one was either convicted or acquitted of the crime. Clearance or closure does not indicate a lack of evidence, a lack of witnesses, a lack of confession. It is jargon for “we simply aren’t working on this investigation any more, and we don’t have to provide a reason for why we stopped investigating”. So, have police and prosecutors solved 78% of all our recent murder cases, or not? Is their use of the term “closure” not intended to be the Uniform Reporting jargon? The meaningful initial question to ask the police about their records requires asking for basic information in words that everyone can understand: how many of our homicide cases have led to arrests, how many of those arrests led to charges, how many of those charges resulted in convictions, how many cases are open investigations that have not yet led to arrests, and how many cases have been closed or cleared without anyone being tried for the crime(s)?

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