OPERATION CRIME & JUSTICE | The motive for murders

    OPERATION CRIME & JUSTICE | The motive for murders

    BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Almost 350 people lost their lives on the streets of Baltimore last year, and there have been a hundred people murdered already this year.

    In Operation: Crime & Justice, FOX45’s long-term investigation into Baltimore’s safety crisis, we discovered more than double the number of killings that indicated an unknown motive.

    While some experts point out motive is not a legal element required in court, other experts explain the role motive does play in the investigation of a murder.

    Understanding why a homicide happens can lead to the identification of person who potentially committed the deadly crime.

    We went through two years of data and found the reasons behind many of Baltimore’s murders remain a mystery in almost half of the cases.

    Daphne Alston is co-founder of the group Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters.

    Alston admits it’s easy to desire revenge after a loved one is killed. She lost her in a fatal shooting ten years ago.

    Alston said: “The first thing that came to my mind after I got the news was, 'All right, let’s get rid of that person who did it.' You know what I’m saying? That's a natural reaction. Now, I’m a grown woman; I got a little more sense. I said, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute, we're moving a little bit too fast. We've got these young people, you hurt their cousin, their homeboy, their friend, their adrenaline is running fast. They want action. They're not gonna stop until they do it.'”

    Retaliation killings are behind some of the murders in Baltimore, but not as much as you might think.

    In 2016, robberies, arguments, drugs, retaliation were all top motives.

    The category with the most cases were those in which the motive was unknown.

    By 2017, the percentage of homicides involving an unknown motive more than doubled to 47 percent.

    Baltimore Police denied our request for an interview.

    Criminologist Dr. Jeffrey Ian Ross said: “Homicide detectives are always overburdened. They’re always going from one case to another, and they may not have the luxury to dig as deep as you and I might want. For families who live each day knowing their loved one’s killer has yet to arrested, motive matters."

    Alston said: “Do we want those people living in our community?... That’s the question we need to ask ourselves.”

    If there’s a story you’d like us to investigate, email crimeandjustice@foxbaltimore.com

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