Homicides in Lancaster County more than doubled in 2012 compared to the countys rate of killings from the previous two years, while the number of homicides investigated in York County dropped. In Chester County, slayings increased slightly.
Fourteen people were classified as homicide victims in Lancaster County last year, with incidents including deaths by gunfire, strangulation and one self-defense slaying. In both 2010 and 2011, Lancaster County law enforcement tallied five homicides per year.
Law enforcement officials and community leaders have blamed drugs, restless youths and rampant unemployment for the increase in violent deaths. Eleven of the homicides took place outside Lancaster city limits.
Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile called the number of killings devastating.
I dont like to hear that number, he said. I can say that 95 or almost 100 percent of them (homicides) can be traced back to being drug-related or gang-related.
The three homicides in Lancaster city limits were the deaths of former Major League Baseball player Danny Clyburn Jr., 37, Cynthia Fruity Barnes, 47, and 54-year-old Donald Morris, a produce stand owner.
Suspects have been arrested in all of the countys homicide cases except one: A double homicide outside a county nightclub in March when Jonathan Duvall Reid, who had just been released from prison, and Azor Lee Cloud, a former college baseball player without a criminal past, were both killed.
In Chester County, three people, including a rape suspect, were killed in 2012 one more than in 2011.
In 2010, three people were shot to death. Two of them died the same night in a club incident that spilled over to a county hospital.
Arrests were made in all three 2012 homicides.
Antwan White, a Richburg man without a criminal history, was charged with murder after police say he fatally shot Michael Jermaine Terry, accused of raping Whites teenage relative.
In November, a grand jury indicted White, who hasnt yet requested a preliminary hearing, said Assistant Sixth Circuit Solicitor Chris Taylor. Officials are still waiting on lab results from the State Law Enforcement Division.
There were two homicides in the county in 2011. One of those killings remains unsolved. Sheriffs deputies are asking for the publics help after unsuccessfully attempting to identify suspects in the slaying of Alfreda Wertz Hinson, a Great Falls convenience store owner.
After a slight increase in 2011, homicides in York County were down in 2012 but still exceeded numbers from two years ago. In 2010, county law enforcement investigated nine homicides. Officers investigated 11 in 2011. In 2012, 10 people were slain, seven of them in Rock Hill, two in Clover and one in Fort Mill.
Fort Mills James Enrico Diago last month pleaded guilty to killing Jackie Craine, his ex-girlfriend, in January 2012. Hes serving a 40-year sentence.
In Clover, Kevin Mitchell Eades shot and killed 22-year-old Travis Koin, who prosecutors say threatened Eades and his friend, Joseph Matthew Polk. Eades and Polk were granted immunity from all charges associated with the homicide after prosecutors determined Eades acted in compliance with the states Protection of Persons and Property Act.
A month later, Shaye Fenske, 21, was fatally shot in the Clover home he shared with his brother. Deputies questioned Fenskes brother but didnt file charges. As of Wednesday, charges hadnt been filed in connection with Fenskes death, said Deputy 16th Circuit Solicitor Willy Thompson.
Kevin Brackett, 16th Circuit Court solicitor, said he plans to meet with deputies to determine where to proceed in the case.
On Dec. 14, Rock Hill police investigated the citys seventh homicide when 76-year-old Cora Campbell was found stabbed to death in her South Jones Avenue home just days after her husband died of natural causes.
Six days earlier, 28-year-old Talbert Pickett was fatally stabbed in an alleged botched drug deal.
Two men, Donald Earl Kobbe Jr. and Christopher Ray Morris, were arrested in connection with his death and charged with murder, armed robbery and criminal conspiracy.
Of Rock Hills homicides in 2012, three remain unsolved: the shooting of 31-year-old Jamar Ferguson, the beating of Alexander Boot Hardin, 65, and the death of Campbell, the citys most recent homicide victim.
Police in May arrested a suspect in connection with Fergusons death. Charges against him were later dropped with the right to restore a day before the mans preliminary hearing in June.
His public defender, Harry Dest, planned to challenge evidence police presented that couldnt place the man at the scene of Fergusons death and question claims made by a source to police.
Authorities also arrested a suspect in connection with Hardins death, but charges against him were later dropped.
Police will only say that these are all active investigations.
Rock Hill alone saw five homicides in 2011 and six in 2010.
Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082