In 2015, 188 people were victims of homicide in St. Louis. Every murder leaves a family struggling to find ways to get along without its loved one. First responders wonder how many more they’ll see in a night. The criminal justice system tries to close the case, sometimes without the help of a community trying to figure out how to deal with the violence. We talk with those who have to cope and carry on in the wake of a homicide.
Homicides have become so common in St. Louis that the response feels like a ritual: a memorial of balloons and stuffed animals and a brief mention in the local media. For the family, its core has changed.
The First Responders
Emergency department staffers all know their jobs when gunshot victims roll in. But when the rush of a Level One trauma is over and the patient has survived or died, the caregivers may need care themselves.
Police, prosecutors and public defenders are frustrated. How do they serve justice? Of the 188 homicides in the city in 2015, just 39 people have faced state charges so far. The federal government indicted four others.
Over the past 50 years, the Wells Goodfellow area has seen property values drop, homeowners move out and renters avoid moving in. But some refuse to give up and have formed groups to support one another.