COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus is staring down the possibility of breaking its record for homicides in a single year.
On Thursday night, 16-year-old Rycheous McKinney was fatally shot on Willamont Avenue. Rycheous was a student at East High School in Columbus City Schools.
As of Nov. 5, there have been 174 homicides in the city.
10 Investigates discovered Rycheous’ death happened in a “dead zone” within the city.
To put these killings and others into context, 10 Investigates created an interactive map, plotting both murders over the past five years – including the areas police have deemed to be “cleared by arrests” and those that are still unsolved.
Since 2017, Columbus has seen approximately 670 murders with police making arrests in a little more than one out of every two murders.
That means more than 300 murders since 2017 are unsolved.
Within our reporting effort, we found more than a dozen geographic areas of the city where murders have consistently gone unsolved.
In order to create a uniform standard, we identified areas with three or more unsolved homicides clustered together within a half-mile of each other. Using that definition, we found at least 16 “dead zones” or “no arrest deserts” where police have historically had a hard time making arrests.
Our investigation found that a street code that pushes silence over cooperation with police is a critical factor that keeps many of these killings unsolved. Retaliatory killings and mistrust of working with police are other factors that the Columbus Division of Police told us also prevent cases from being solved.
Within these “dead zones” we interviewed families members and friends of those who died and listened to their stories of grief and how a street code of “no snitching” plagues many of these cases from being solved – robbing families of justice.
We found at least four other unsolved killings all within a half-mile of where Rycheous was shot and killed.
“Sixteen years old is still a baby,” said neighbor Felicia Manns, who is also vice president of the Shepard neighborhood association.
Manns and her husband, Kervin Edwards, live down the street from where Thursday night’s shooting happened.
“In our day, we fought with our fists but stayed alive,” said Edwards. “And we generally got back to being friends after all that went down. There’s no chance of being a friend when you shoot someone and kill them.”