- Associated Press - Sunday, June 29, 2014

SPRRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Springfield police acknowledge they are dealing with a larger-than-usual number of unsolved homicides, but they’re not ready to call them a trend.

In the past two years the Springfield Police Department has solved 25 homicides, but eight others - including the May 1 slayings of 60-year-old Gary Tyrrell and his 61-year-old wife, Jan Tyrrell, in their home - remain open, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1rMD7N6 ).

It’s been nearly two years since Marcus Wells was fatally shot at an apartment complex where more than 20 people were at a party. Most of those people fled, and police said the witnesses were not cooperative, leaving Wells’ death on the unsolved list.

“What is unusual is the number of cases we have right now that are open,” Capt. David Millsap said. “Homicides are so difficult to categorize. Sometimes you initially have a break and can make an arrest very quickly.”

Wells was a documented gang member with a criminal record. Situations like that sometimes help police quickly identify a suspect, Millsap said, but other times they leave investigators with either multiple suspects or none at all - especially for those who are involved in “drug trade or violent crime.”

Even if there are witnesses, Millsap said, they often are hesitant to talk because they fear retribution.

Police generally don’t say much about the open cases because doing so can harm the investigations, he said. Even if the unsolved homicides have similarities, Millsap wouldn’t elaborate.

“The more you talk about homicide cases, the more you let it be driven by the media or community outrage, or you say something in public you don’t have enough facts about,” he said

That includes in the Tyrrell case, in which police have revealed neither how the couple died nor why investigators think the killings were not a random act.

Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson has told the newspaper police believe releasing that information could jeopardize the investigation.

It’s also tricky trying to decide how much information to share with families, Millsap said.

“We give them as much information as we can without jeopardizing the cases,” he said. “We can’t be as open as we’d like to be.”


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com



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