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Notes on 2007: Missing Cases

December 31, 2007 |  1:49 pm

Cruz_diego_poinsettias The Homicide Report endeavored to cover every homicide in Los Angeles County in 2007. It has failed to do so.

The HR tally displayed here is inaccurate by a margin of at least 10%. Possibly 100 homicides or more are missing from the lists that have been posted here throughout the year. Anyone tempted to use this list or the accompanying map for statistical purposes, please be aware this is not a comprehensive catalog of 2007 homicides.

For this reason, a full accounting of how many homicides have occurred in Los Angeles County this year versus last year will require further analysis. The findings will be published here later.

We know homicides have fallen sharply this year--not just in the city of Los Angeles, but also countywide. It is not yet clear by how much.

Homicides are missing from HR for many reasons. In some cases, lengthy investigations were required to determine that some deaths were homicides, and not accidents, suicides, or natural deaths. Some infant deaths fall into this category. Following this post are several produced by LAT staff writer Jack Leonard which attempt to address this fault.

In addition, a number of cases were missed early in the year as HR evolved a system for tracking all homicides, and corrected flaws in its approach. Los Angeles County has 10 million people and dozens of police jurisdictions. The Los Angeles Times has never attempted to track all homicides before, and a considerable learning curve was involved.

Mistakes or omissions also happened because, in some cases, a victim died in a hospital very long after being injured, making it more difficult to link a death to the initial assault. Sometimes confusion over AKAs or discrepancies between various agency reports were to blame. And finally, the relentless demands of this beat have at times exceeded the abilities of this reporter, and names have gone missing because HR is guilty of lapses in vigilance.

Apologies to loved ones of those victims whose names were omitted; HR is trying to add them all.

Above, Christmas flowers for Christmas Eve murder victim Diego Cruz, 15.

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