NAPLES, Fla. — They're some of the toughest stories we have to cover - homicides. Fox 4 asked law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida about the number of homicide cases they investigated in 2017 and 2018, to see whether or not murders are on the rise in the area - even as 2019 began with two homicides in one county.
Schimael Deroses, 21, was killed early Tuesday in Immokalee. The Collier County Sheriff's Office responded to a home on Chadwick Circle in response to a stabbing, and found Deroses deceased. No arrests have been made.
Then Tuesday afternoon, Naples Police found the body of Frances Axley, 78, in her home on Chesapeake Avenue when they went to her home for a welfare check. Police say they are investigating her death as a homicide, and have identified a person of interest who is no longer in Southwest Florida.
While two murders are a rough way to start the new year, law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida communities report no significant increase in the number of homicides from 2017 to 2018.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office reports that they investigated twenty-five homicides in 2018, including a shooting at Bell Tower Shops which killed two people and wounded two others. Overall, Lee County's 25 homicides in 2018 was a decrease compared to 32 murders in 2017.
2018 was a tough year for the Fort Myers Police Department when Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller was shot and killed in the line of duty by Wismer Desmaret. Homicides also increased slightly, from ten in 2017 to twelve in 2018.
Collier County saw six homicides in 2017 and nine in 2018, including victims Ruby Velasco, 18, and Victoria Colon, 49. Arrests were made in both of those cases, and in all but four of 2018's homicides in Collier.
Until Frances Axley was found dead Tuesday, there hadn't been a homicide in the City of Naples since one in 2017. Axley's next-door neighbor Katrina Varela hopes it's the last.
"I really feel like 2019 can only go up from here," Varela said. "It's really sad."