Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is pleased to announce that from June 20, 2008, to June 20, 2013, the Polk County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit has successfully solved every homicide within unincorporated Polk County and the contract cities for which PCSO is responsible.
“Our 100% clearance rate for the past five years reflects the hard work and dedication of not just the detectives and agency members assigned to the Homicide Unit, but of all the men and women in our agency. We have a holistic approach to crime in Polk County – we work together in our agency as a team, and we partner with the community to solve and deter crime. This 100% clearance rate is also an extension of our historically low crime rate*. Crime is lower today in our county than ever before. I couldn’t be more proud of our agency members for all they do to keep Polk County safe.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
The most recent statistics for the Homicide Unit are as follows: In 2012, the unit investigated 23 homicides, all of which were cleared either by arrest or ruled justified by the State Attorney’s Office. In addition to those homicides, the unit also handled: 335 natural deaths, 42 suicides, 36 accidental deaths, 16 child deaths, and other cases routinely assigned to the unit.
So far in 2013, the unit has investigated and solved six (6) homicides:
· March 12, 2013 – Victim Tony Helaire was killed by suspect Samuel Betancourt, who was charged with Manslaughter;
· March 25, 2013 – Victim Jesse Shivers was killed by suspects Richard Virnet and Kenneth Perez-Cruz, both of whom were charged with Murder;
· April 13, 2013 – Victim Joseph Coney was killed by Ben Furman and Isaiah Tillman; Coney’s death was ruled justified by the SAO;
· April 27, 2013 – Victim Travis Fogle was killed by suspect Jamanus Beck, who was charged with Murder;
· May 17, 2013 – William Pennypacker was killed by Nancy Pennypacker; the death was ruled justified by the SAO;
· June 9, 2013 – Victim Ubaldo Delgado-Medrano was killed by suspect Victor Camacho, who was charged with Murder.
In addition to the homicides that the unit investigated and solved so far in 2013, the unit has handled: 152 natural deaths, 19 suicides, 19 accidental deaths, 5 child deaths, and other cases routinely assigned to the unit.
“Solving homicides is extremely important to us. Not only does it result in locking up violent criminals so that they can’t hurt anyone else, just as importantly it helps victims’ families have some sort of closure, knowing the person(s) responsible for killing their loved one can’t hurt anyone else, and that they will be held accountable. When we are assigned a homicide, our detectives, crime scene investigators, crime analysts, and support staff work non-stop around the clock, to solve the crime quickly as possible.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
*Polk County's crime rate in the unincorporated areas and contract cities (for which the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is responsible) dropped 8.15% from 2011 to 2012, according to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics reported annually to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This is the lowest crime rate ever measured in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction, breaking the previous record from last year. Since 1997, the crime rate in Polk County has fallen by 62.9%.