City Murder Rate Headed For Record -- Though Killings Are On The Rise, Numbers Can Be A Bit Misleading

If murder in Seattle continues at its current pace, it appears the city could set a record for the number of people killed in a year.

Or does it?

As of today, Seattle police had counted 57 homicides, or an average of 1.4 murders a week this year so far. There were 66 homicides in the city all of last year. The record is 69 in 1969.

Numbers can be deceptive, however, and this year's are no exceptions.

For example, six homicides for Seattle for 1993 didn't even happen this year - they took place in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

The body of Margaret Rosanne Hodsdon, a teen who disappeared in 1991, wasn't found until this year, although authorities don't believe she was killed in 1993.

The fire deaths of three elderly women in September 1992 were moved to the 1993 list after the cause of the fire was reclassified from accidental to arson. Two other, earlier killings - that of Glen Isidore in 1990 and Andre Darden in 1992 - also weren't classified as homicides until this year.

Eliminate these six and the number of 1993 homicides so far would drop to 51.

Two additional deaths were caused by law-enforcement officers: One officer shot and killed a man during a hotel robbery and another officer shot and killed a man who was shooting at drivers on the Evergreen Point bridge.

Law-enforcement officialsagree that it's tough to interpret crime rates, including ones for murder.

Homicides make up less than 1 percent of the total crime in the state each year. A single act, such as the killing of 13 people at once, as happened a decade ago in the Wah Mee massacre in Seattle, can statistically skew the figures.

At least 36 Seattle slayings this year involved firearms. In 1992 in Washington state, 118 (or 45 percent) of the 260 homicides were committed with handguns.

The first eight months of this year, drugs appeared to be involved in at least 10 of the Seattle killings.

And gangs appeared to have played a role. If the reclassified deaths and the officer shootings are dropped from consideration, that would mean 10 of this year's 49 remaining homicides were gang-related - more than 20 percent of the total. In all of 1992, there were just six gang-related murders in Seattle.

Other motives for murder in the city ranged from jealousy to robbery.

There were 10 homicides in August alone, about twice the average rate per month for the rest of the year. There were only two homicides in May, for example.

While a close look at the figures shows this may be a record year for killing, law-enforcement officials also note that countless factors, ranging from the economy to the weather, affect the crime rate.

Seattle Police Homicide Sgt. Tom Miller, notes, for example, that Fire Department Medic One units went into service shortly after the record number of 1969 killings, meaning a faster response with medical treatment has kept many victims alive who might otherwise have ended up on the homicide list.

Such factors are hard to translate into clear-cut statistics.

--------------------------- HOMICIDES IN SEATTLE - 1993 ---------------------------

51 people have been slain in Seattle this year # .

Victim Age Date Method Location

Andre L. Dowell 24 1-6-93 Shot Seward Park

Circumstances: Possibly gang-related . Virgil Wenger 68 1-9-93 Beaten S.E. Seattle

Circumstances: Robbery . David Young 43 1-29-93 Stabbed Int. District

Circumstances: Romantic disagreement . Mitsuko Collins 51 2-10-93 Beaten Near Kingdome

Circumstances: Angry former employee . Shigeru Uramatsu 51 2-10-93 Shot Near Kingdome

Circumstances: Angry former employee . James Nicholson 40 2-12-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Robbery/drug-related . Elaine Charlie 29 2-15-93 Stabbed Downtown

Circumstances: Tavern fight . Selah Anderson 24 3-2-93 Shot N.E. Seattle

Circumstances: Answered door at home . Leslie Lykes 22 3-6-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Drug robbery . Alfred Lee Daniels 38 3-27-93 Stabbed Pioneer Square

Circumstances: Tavern fight . Tony Hendricks 30 3-27-93 Shot Pioneer Square

Circumstances: Tavern fight . Steven Goddard 25 3-27-93 Shot Pioneer Square

Circumstances: Tavern fight . James Credit 22 3-28-93 Shot Pioneer Square

Circumstances: Possibly gang-related . Aisa Cameron 34 4-6-93 Shot Central Area

Circumstances: Drug related . Fernando Pattugalan 31 4-10-93 Stabbed S. Seattle

Circumstances: Unknown motive . John Magee 28 4-11-93 Shot Pioneer Square

Circumstances: Tavern fight . Loetta Coston 9 4-17-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Shot in car . Gregory B. Callier 37 4-22-93 Shot Central Area

Circumstances: Argument . Roger Lawhorne 25 4-30-93 Shot Downtown

Circumstances: Police shooting . John H. Marshall 22 5-15-93 Shot Central Area

Circumstances: Possibly gang related . Darryl Taylor 24 5-24-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Possibly drug related . Thomas Perkowski 30 6-5-93 Stabbed Capitol Hill

Circumstances: Unknown motive . Nathaniel Vinson 39 6-10-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Drug theft . Keith L. Ford 17 6-17-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Drug robbery . Phillip S. Hayes 26 6-20-93 Stabbed N.E. Seattle

Circumstances: All-night party . Dennis Oslund 41 6-24-93 Stabbed Pioneer Square

Circumstances: Robbery . Peter R. Badewitz 25 6-25-93 Shot Arboretum

Circumstances: Police shooting . Karl Eckness 39 7-4-93 Shot South Park

Circumstances: Drug-related . Thomas Quaife 52 7-7-93 Shot W. Seattle

Circumstances: Robbery cash/drugs . Mia Zapata 27 7-7-93 Strangled Central Area

Circumstances: Unknown motive . Paul Nguyen 16 7-10-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Drive-by shooting . Randy Toangutu 21 7-14-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Possibly gang-related . Alane Alice Scott 28 7-19-93 Shot Lower Q.A.

Circumstances: Prostitute/robbery . Robert L. Grace 23 7-24-93 Shot Yesler Terrace

Circumstances: Possibly gang-related . Teryle Hovinga 26 7-29-93 Shot W. Seattle

Circumstances: Traffic dispute . Bunna Ream 17 7-30-93 Shot Int. District

Circumstances: Possibly gang-related . Archie Kennedy 33 8-1-93 Stabbed S. Seattle

Circumstances: Family dispute . Maremma Guzman 48 8-4-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Murder-suicide . Lisa Mulholland 19 8-6-93 Drowned Green Lake

Circumstances: In bathtub . Latasha Davis 14 8-8-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Dating dispute . Maun Louie 18 8-12-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Possibly gang-related . Aleki Keni 21 8-13-93 Shot W. Seattle

Circumstances: Gang crossfire . Katerina Lundemo 32 8-13-93 Shot N.W. Seattle

Circumstances: Murder-suicide . Darryl Roberson 26 8-16-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Shot by man in bushes . Sheryl Hernandez 27 8-16-93 Shot W. Seattle

Circumstances: Unknown motive . Connie Munoz 35 8-29-93 Smoke Beacon Hill

Circumstances: Fire, domestic . Rykar Johnson 26 9-3-93 Shot Central Area

Circumstances: Attempted drug buy . Monica Abat 26 9-3-93 Shot Central Area

Circumstances: Attempted drug buy . Emerson Swain 15 9-10-93 Shot S.W. Seattle

Circumstances: Gang-related . Bruce Matthews 23 9-15-93 Shot S. Seattle

Circumstances: Traffic dispute . Barbara Burns 69 9-23-93 Beaten N. Seattle

Circumstances: Found unconscious .

# This chart does not include the six deaths police listed as 1993 homicides, but which actually occurred in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Source: Seattle Police Department