Southern Maryland Online, 4 May 2011 (Marso)
Full Report (long)
When Jonathan Scott, 28, found out he had a 5-year-old son in Connecticut, he left his home in Prince George's County to meet him.
In October 2006, less than a week before he was to return to Connecticut, Scott was shot to death while sitting in his car outside a friend's house in Cheverly. No one in the residential neighborhood called police until the next morning, when a man walking his dog found Scott's body, still in the driver's seat.
Five years later Scott's killer has not been found, and his case is one of many still unsolved in the county.
According to data from the FBI's Supplemental Homicide Report compiled by the Scripps Howard News Service and analyzed by Capital News Service, there were 3,029 homicides in Prince George's County between 1980 and 2008. Police did not identify an offender in 1,517 of those cases, leaving what appears to be a mountainous caseload for the Prince George's County Police's four cold-case detectives.
Those 1,517 victims include Edmund Akofio-Sowah, 45, shot in his taxicab in Capitol Heights in January 2005, and Makeeya Antoinette Johnson, 18, found dead in a Chillum apartment that had been set on fire in November 2004.
Also among them is David Moncrieffe, 24; shot in a crowded nightclub in Bladensburg in June 2004 by a man reportedly wearing a Philadelphia 76ers basketball jersey, after Moncrieffe accidently bumped him on the dance floor. Moncrieffe was a college grad who worked with children with special needs and volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club. There were about 500 people in the club that night -- only one witness came forward.
John Maloney, chief of the homicide unit for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office from 2003 to 2007, said witness intimidation hindered investigations in the county when he worked there. Still, he was surprised that the county had solved only 49.9 percent of its homicides from 1980 to 2008, according to the data.
"Are you sure it's that low?" Maloney said.
Between 1980 and 2008, Baltimore City identified an offender in 53.8 percent of its 7,716 homicides. No other county in Maryland had more than 1,000 homicides and no other county solved less than 71 percent. According to the data analysis, the national average was 70.8 percent during that time span.
Prince George's County Interim Police Chief Mark Magaw said looking at data that went back that far does not paint an accurate picture of his current force.
"You and I both know you can twist numbers any way you want," Magaw said. "I'd put our homicide unit up with any in the country."
The data shows a significant improvement in the county's homicide solution rate in recent years -- from a low of 31 percent in 2004 to nearly 60 percent in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Prince George's County Police spokesman Cpl. Evan Baxter said the department closed 79 percent of its homicides in 2009, and the department has made arrests in 14 of 35 homicides (40 percent) so far this year. Data from 2010 was not available.