Special Report: Homicide Tracker

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Day after day, murder is in the news. We just can't get away from it. We wanted to provide context to the daily reporting. So we created our 17 Homicide Tracker, an online database that follows cases from investigation to resolution.

As of right now, 82 people are dead -- victims of homicide in 2017. That's one homicide about every 90 hours. These statistics have names -- they have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Some left behind children. Some victims were children. Our Homicide Tracker is more than a memorial for these people -- it's a place to keep cold cases alive.
    
There are still no arrests in the killing of a 5-year-old boy earlier this year. Kason Guyton and his 7-year-old brother BJ were riding in the car with their mother and her boyfriend on their way home from a movie February 23 when a suspected gang member pulled up in a dark sedan and opened fire. 

Police Chief Lyle Martin said, "These types of acts of violence and cowardice will not be tolerated."

Martin vowed to hunt down the shooter. In the weeks following Kason's death, extra officers combed the streets. More than eight months later, still no arrest. 

Of the 82 homicides so far this -- law enforcement confirms gang ties in only seven, but they admit that number is most likely significantly understated. In many cases, details go unreported. The Homicide Tracker aims to provide some insight into these cases. 
     
The information compiled in the past two years reveals statistical trends. Homicide hits every age group, every income sector throughout the county, but concentrated on young men. It happens most frequently in the poorer parts of town.

17 News has found - the deadliest areas of Kern County are the 93307 and 93305 zip codes. So far this year, 27 homicides have happened in these areas. Both zip codes are east of Highway 99. More than 45-percent of people there live in poverty. If there's a homicide in Bakersfield - it's likely to happen in these areas. 

According to the California Department of Justice, Kern County had the second highest homicide rate in the state last year, outnumbered only by Monterey County.

Our study also produced some less-expected statistics: the most common occurrence of killings by demographic -- shootings of young Hispanic men. But Black men are three and a half times more likely as Latino to be killed in Kern County. 

The Homicide Tracker also brought to light a string of killings with striking similarities. Three men who appeared to be homeless were killed this year with no apparent motive. All shot to death within a few miles of each other in east Bakersfield. 

One of those men, Larry Olivas, was picking cans out of trash bins when he was shot 11 times at close range. Before he died, he managed to tell a passerby his killer was a stranger.

His daughter, Lorraine Olivas, said she found out about the other deaths because the Homicide Tracker. Lorraine Olivas said, "I think that their cases get put on the back burner and I wouldn't have known any details or information. I wouldn't have known."
  
Police, deputies and investigators are on scene of a homicide minutes after calls come in, but, the majority of homicide investigations remain open. So far this year, 50 cases, more than 60-percent, are unsolved. Even when a suspect is named -- detectives know who they're searching for -- sometimes that person can not be found, justice can not be served. This year, the Homicide Tracker points out there are a dozen cases with a person of interest, a potential killer on the run - 12 families hanging in the balance. 

When a person is killed by another, justice can move slowly. We hope our homicide tracker can keep those cases alive --so family and loved ones can one day find a resolution.

If you have a story you'd like to share, send us an email HomicideTracker@KGET.com.


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