Most of Columbia’s unsolved homicides of the last two decades have happened in the last eight years, according to an analysis obtained by ABC 17 News.
ABC 17 News requested a list breaking down the status of each homicide since 1997 from the Columbia Police Department. The list includes those in which police arrested one or multiple suspects and homicides later cleared by special circumstances.
The list details Columbia’s 85 homicides since 1997. The earliest case listed that is still considered active and without an arrest is the 2009 death of Mark Dailey.
ABC 17 News pointed out the rapid increase in unsolved homicides since 2016 in a special report on Monday. An initial count, done by a separate records request and previous ABC 17 News reporting, showed that unsolved homicides went from two before 2016 to eight today. The new document shows unsolved homicides went from three to 10 since 2016.
Columbia police also sport the lowest number of sworn detectives, according to the Benchmark Cities date for 2016, which collects department demographics across 26 similarly sized cities.
The new data also considers the death of Damian Davis in July as an open case. Willie Higgins was arrested in connection to that case, accused of leaving the scene with the suspected murder weapon.
The list notes that the 2001 death of Kent Heitholt has been both cleared with an arrest and “re-opened.” A court vacated Ryan Ferguson’s conviction in that case, while co-defendant Charles Erickson recanted his testimony that implicated both him and Ferguson in the crime.
Here is the list of homicide victims who’s cases have not seen an arrest yet:
Mark Dailey (Jan. 7, 2009) Timothy Jones (Dec. 20, 2011) Rickie Dunn (Nov. 30, 2014) Gabrielle Rhodes (April 25, 2016) Edmund “Ricky” Randolph (June 24, 2016) Michael Walker, Jr. (March 26, 2017) Jeffrey Jones (March 26, 2017) Cameron Caruthers (May 22, 2017) Jamar Hicks (July 16, 2017) Damian Davis (July 22, 2017)