MILWAUKEE — As the city is on pace for a record number of homicides in 2020, Milwaukee police detectives are struggling to keep up and the rate those murders are solved has dropped so far this year.
Police report to the FBI what's called a clearance rate, or the percentage of homicides "cleared," usually through an arrest.
As of Oct. 1, Milwaukee police have cleared 84 of 141 homicides, putting the clearance rate at about 60 percent. That's down from 2019's rate of 77 percent. In 2018 the clearance rate was 76 percent, and in 2017 it was at 78 percent.
It's also below the FBI's most recent national average in 2019, which was 61 percent.
This year's rate is the lowest it's been since 2015. Homicide Division Capt. Thomas Casper says in 2015, the numbers of homicides were at a peak not seen for over 20 years.
"There were 11 more people assigned to the homicide unit then there are now," Casper said.
With a shrinking homicide division, a potential record year for total homicides, and proposed cuts coming from the Common Council in next year's budget, Casper fears things could get worse.
"It's gonna have a tremendous effect not only on the department but on the community as a whole," Casper said. "I would like to solve every case that we get involved with. It's a small measure of comfort for the families we deal with to not only to tell them that we caught the suspect that did this but to give them an explanation as to why."
"This was the first year I've been to a workplace shooting, the Molson Coors one, but we've had other multiple-victim incidents," Casper also said. "We had an incident where one suspect killed all 5 family members. We had another one where a mother and two young kids were killed and their bodies were burned in a garage."
For families who are still waiting for that explanation, no statistic will make them feel better. Like Tammy Love, who's daughter Ashleigh was shot and killed in their home near 64th and Hampton, 11 years ago this week.
"Oct. 6, 2009, two o'clock in the morning, some monsters walked to our house and proceeded to my daughter Ashleigh's bedroom and shot and killed her," Love said.
"It stays with us every single minute of every single day," she also said. "There's always something missing, my son just got married this the year before last, and she wasn't there. She was missing."
The families left asking why did this happen to their loved ones. Like the family of DeAndre Allen, who was killed the day after Christmas in 2016.
"You know, the children still have questions," said DeAndre's mother Shannon Allen. "You know, why is my dad gone and you know you don't have any answers and it's just so hard feeling."
DeAndre called his mother at about 1:25 that afternoon. Nineteen minutes later someone called 911 to report gunshots, and he was found on the sidewalk, shot in the head.
"One detective right out told me my son was killed for what he knew, but nothing he did so, what was it that my child knew that cost him his life," Allen said.
Not having an explanation keeps both mothers up at night, and that anxiety can turn to frustration with the police department.
"I understand they have other cases, but to me, this is my world, like my case, like my everything," Love said.
"My son is just another toe tag for the city of Milwaukee when they don't respond," Allen said.
"I'd like to solve every one of the cases, I know that's what the families would like," Casper said. "It's heartbreaking when families call up and we have nothing new to tell them."
Those calls from loved ones are a constant reminder that the clearance rate is not just a number on a spreadsheet.
It's a daughter who had her whole life ahead of her.
It's a father who left behind six children.
And it's families who just want answers.
If you have a tip on these or any cold cases in Milwaukee, you can call Milwaukee police at 414-935-7360 or click here to send them a message.
You can also read more about other unsolved homicides in Milwaukee here: MPD Cold Case.