by: Becca J. G. Godwin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nefertiti Jaquez Updated:
ATLANTA - A young woman was standing outside a Buckhead bar in July when gunfire erupted in the parking lot.
Taylor Hayden, 25, visiting Atlanta on a “girls’ weekend” from Texas, was killed in the crossfire. About 1,500 people reportedly attended the funeral for Hayden, who graduated from Prairie View A&M University, and her father pleaded for someone to come forward with information.
But that homicide, along with 50 others from 2016, remains unsolved.
Atlanta recorded 111 murders in 2016, making it the city’s deadliest year in nearly a decade. The year before, Atlanta saw 95 murders, the AJC has reported.
Henry Horton, who also went by the name Diamond, was a popular hairstylist who worked out of his home on Richland Road in southwest Atlanta.
Last fall, his family said a client found him shot to death in his living room.
"If we could just know who did this and why, it would give us some peace," the victim's aunt, who raised him like a son, told Channel 2's Nefertiti Jaquez.
It was clear by summer that 2016 wasn’t in good shape; the murder rate was up 25 percent by July. In Zone 3 on the south side, 22 murders had happened by then, equaling all of 2014 in that zone.
As a result, the city unveiled Operation Whiplash, which called for the creation of a task force that Mayor Kasim Reed said would “dramatically increase resources to respond and investigate gun-related violent crime in our city.”
The approach slowed the murder rate some, but it “didn’t have the success that we hoped,” Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson said last month.
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A decrease in the number of employed officers could be a contributing factor.
The police department had 2,000 officers in 2013, a number that has since fallen below that.
“The police force has to get back up to 2,000 officers,” Reed said recently. “One hundred and twenty, 130 more officers on the street makes a huge difference.”
The department graduated 25 new officers this week.
Atlanta homicide commander Adam Lee said investigators are working hard to solve these cases.
"People just don't know how hard these folks work. They hardly ever get any sleep. They will go home, take a nap and go right back," he said.
Lee said that they have warrants for suspects in four of the cases.
The increase in homicides follows a national trend.
The statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight recently reported that cities with populations of more than 250,000 people saw murders rise roughly 11.3 percent in 2016.
APD did not respond to requests for comment.
On Monday the Atlanta Police Department released a list of all unsolved homicides from 2016 in response to an AJC open records request.
The victims were:
Jan. 13: Deonta Evans, 19
Jan. 16: Murver Carter, 64
Jan. 23: Michael Robinson, 21
Feb. 5: Mamadou Matesso, 55
Feb. 17: Larry Cooper, 33
Feb. 20: Timothy Nunn, 40
March 13: Xavier Matthews, 18
March 15: Derrick Seals, 48
March 16: Earl Manassa, 23
March 25: Duntavius Pittman, 21
May 2: Tracy Jackson, 44
May 27: Usef Bell, 35
May 31: Bridget Shiel, 19
June 1: Shahriar Zolfaghari, 34
June 8: Tavares Robinson, 40
June 8: Dante Sutton, 37
June 9: Conan Blue, 37
June 10: Homer Thirkkield, 19
June 13: Darryl Gibson, 32
June 16: Larlethea Sharrieff, 53
June 25: Alvin Andrews, 21
June 26: Fernando Wingfield, 43
July 1: Jokisha Brown, 35
July 4: Andrew Churchhill, 28
July 5: Quintin Williams, 18
July 10: Tevoris Brock, 25
July 23: Taylor Hayden, 25
July 31: Reginald Edwards, 26
July 31: Dyllon Scott, 18
Aug. 4: Deondre Dickerson, 20
Aug. 4: Dejon Fuller: 24
Aug. 22: David Williams, 35
Sept. 5: Lamarr Thomas, 28
Sept. 16: Terrance Paige, 25
Sept. 14: Morgan Oller, 26
Sept. 16: Henry Horton, 28
Oct. 18: Tychika Hefflin, 34
Nov. 1: Demandril Jackson, 22
Nov. 1: Reginald Thomas, 51
Nov. 1: Octavious Brooks, 43
Nov. 2: Carl Cosby, 28
Nov. 3: David Jackson, 22
Nov. 9: Rodney Davenport, 57
Nov. 19: Jaron Ramsby, 34
Nov. 20: Jayquan Stevenson, 26
Nov. 30: David Hood Jr., 40
Dec. 12: Joshua Sherrod, 23
Dec. 13: Anthony Freeman, 26
Dec. 24: Cedric Weaver, 33
Dec. 26: Scott Hull, 37
Dec. 31: Julia McTure, 47
Atlanta police accept tips, which can be anonymous, through Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477), online at www.crimestoppersatlanta.org or by texting CSA and the tip to CRIMES (274637).
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