FORT MYERS, Fla -- 4 In Your Corner broke down how many murders happened in Southwest Florida in 2017, and how many remain unsolved, Thursday; and discovered one agency's numbers decreased dramatically.
We requested homicide statistics from various law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida, including the Collier County Sheriff's Office, the Marco Island Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the Fort Myers Police Department, the Cape Coral Police Department, the Punta Gorda Police Department, and the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.
Punta Gorda Police and Marco Island Police reported there were 0 homicides in their areas in 2017. The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office saw one homicide, which they said is solved.
Cape Coral Police investigated four homicides this year. Only one of those cases are still under investigation, while the other three are solved.
Five homicides were investigated by the Collier County Sheriffs Office. The agency reported all of those cases were solved.
Meanwhile, the Lee County Sheriff's Office investigated 32 homicides in 2017. Southwest Florida Crimestoppers Spokeswoman Trish Routte explained this is an average year for the agency. However, they did see a spike in double homicides. "LCSO had five double homicides, so that makes two victims in a single case," she said. "It definitely was not the norm."
Still, Routte said numbers have dropped, and amount of arrests in homicide cases has increased. She believes the community contributed to that statistic. "You go back maybe two, three years ago, we were in an era where people weren't talking about anything," she said. "Now this year, we've seen people be a little more forth coming with things that they saw, things that they heard."
The Fort Myers Police Department has come under fire in the past for the amount of unsolved murders they investigated. In 2015, the city saw 14 homicides. In 2016, they saw 16 homicides, 62% of which were unsolved.
However, in 2017, the amount of murders decreased dramatically in Fort Myers. The city had ten homicides, and of those cases, seven are solved. The department is still actively investigating the other three.
Routte believes there has been a shift in focus toward safety in the community. She hopes the trend continues and more families obtain much needed closure, but reminded 4 In Your Corner law enforcement can only do so with the community's support. "That can continue, but we need the community to remember that it's in their hands. They can make all the difference in the world for our community, and these families."
If you have a tip that can help detectives piece together any homicide case this year or in previous years, you can leave it anonymously with the SWFL Crimestoppers hotline at 1(800) 780-TIPS. You could earn a cash reward if your tip leads to an arrest.