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Brothers Marquis left and Dominique right Garrett died after an armed home invasion.


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Just for Kids Barbershop sits on the end of an aging shopping complex in north Jackson. Sagging with wear, the shop has bars on the windows and doors and a sticker that proclaims "No guns allowed. A fluorescent proclaims the shop is "Open," but the door is locked tight. For three days in a row, knocks go unanswered.

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The barbershop was the scene of one of Jackson's 40 killings in Shop owner Johnny Brown was shot and killed after a masked man burst into the barbershop and began shooting. The man fled on foot. Brown died in the parking lot. The Jackson Police Department has a current "solvability or clearance rate" of The national solvability rate is This time last year, 44 people had been killed in Jackson. By the end ofthe homicide death toll had reached Of those homicides, arrests were made in 56 while 13 remain open.

Few of the homicides in Jackson have been random, Vance said. Often in the cases of the unsolved homicides, police have a suspect in mind but can't get enough evidence to get an arrest warrant ed. We've got to have evidence to convince a judge to off on an arrest warrant.

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We've got to have enough information so that the district attorney can take that case and present it to the grand jury and get an indictment. Then, we've got to be able to have enough information, enough evidence, enough facts, to be able to take that person to court and get a conviction," he said. Octavius Hinton of Jackson said he knows who killed his brother.

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But he believes the killers walked free. Harris, known as "JD," was shot once in the back of the head, his body found in the yard in front of the south Jackson apartment he shared with his girlfriend and young daughter. Octavius had spoken with his brother on the phone less than an hour before he was gunned down.

Harris, 32, had been gambling with two young brothers — ages 15 and 17 — when they attempted to rob him. Harris said he thought the case was open and shut. The statement was thrown out and the case fell apart. Both teens walked free. Amy Walker, director of of the attorney general's Crime Victim's Compensation Division, said families grapple with the circumstances surrounding the slaying of a loved one. Now, more than a decade later, Harris said the pain of losing his brother is still fresh. The feeling of heartache never goes away.

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Vance said there are clear-cut cases with "the smoking gun. It goes past five days and we haven't solved it, people are wondering what's going on. And obviously developing suspect information from a situation like that takes a lot longer. The only thing we have to do is get the right kind of information that ties things together. Obviously, the one with the hot trail is easy. Sometimes when the trail cools off, it takes a bit more time but we're still successful in solving quite a few of those as well. The day after Brown's slaying, the head of Jeremy Jackson was found on the porch of a Jackson neighborhood.

Neighbors would not talk to reporters on scene, and, despite the gruesomeness of the case, details were limited.

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Federal officials were brought in, but Jackson's death remains unsolved. Christopher Freeze, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi, said the FBI is assisting in Jackson's death investigation but would not comment on the specifics of the case.

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However, Freeze said the lack of an arrest is not always indicative of a stall in the case. Vance said in many cases, police often rely on the public's help to get enough information to make an arrest. What's been successful for us in the past is somebody just calling us and letting us know or either we develop it through informants. Sgt Derrick Jordan, supervisor of JPD's robbery homicide division, said investigators work around the clock after someone is slain and deploy every tool at their disposal to develop le. In the cases where an arrest doesn't happen, for the families of victims, not knowing who killed their loved one can be a heavy burden to bear.

Some cases not clear cut

In those instances, the relationship families establish with law enforcement can often be cathartic. While 10 cases remain unsolved, Vance chooses to focus on what he sees as the positive, the fact there have been arrests in 30 of 40 cases.

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He attributes the arrests to his team of investigators. The Jackson Police Department is budgeted for officers. They have with 10 investigators solely dedicated to violent crimes such as murder, adult rape and carjackings. Vance said JPD could "always use more" investigators but he's confident in his current staff.

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But what we want to not have to go out and do is 39 murder investigations in eight months. We don't want to do that.

We want to see that decrease to a minimum. Vance said he sees the current decrease in killings as a step in the right direction but believes the city still has to address the violence. The majority of the homicides, he said, stem from a dispute that quickly escalates or an ongoing feud.

Many times people that are having a dispute, they are sporadic, impulsive type situations," Vance said. People get into drug disputes all the time. Addicts try to steal stuff from the drug dealers and they end up getting shot or killed. People get into arguments over drugs and they get shot or killed.

You take that particular ingredient and you add it in with simple, domestic type issues, if I had to name two causes, I would name those two. Vance said he feels it's "senseless" to compare Jackson's crime rate to any other Mississippi towns, citing the capital city's population.

In comparison, Vance said he feels Jackson typically has a "bit higher" homicide rate than other Southern cities of similar size.

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So far, in45 people have been slain and 22 of those remain unsolved. In Huntsville, Alabama, the Huntsville Police Department does not have any open cases from or Fifteen people were killed in Huntsville in and 12 people were murdered in All have been solved or resulted in arrests, according to Huntsville Police Lt.

Stacy Bates. In Mobile, Alabama, there were 44 criminal homicides in and 11 of those remain unsolved, according to public information officer Donald Wallace.

Families left in limbo

The city has had 27 homicides to date in with seven unsolved. Vance said his office is working to solve the city's unsolved homicides but, as a whole, he feels the mindset behind the killings has to change because people are "playing out video games in real life. When you look at 40 this year as opposed to 44 last year, you've still got a clear problem and the problem seems to come with when people don't put as much value on human life as they should.

It seems to be too easy to pick up a gun and just shoot somebody. Harris said he has yet to see the two teens he said killed his brother.

Murder in the city: deep causes, harmful biases, unexpected solutions to gun violence

He worries what would happen. Contact Sarah Fowler at or sfowler gannett. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Stephen Crook, 27, was shot and killed in January outside Rally's on U. Kendale Tarvin, 27, was shot multiple times, in broad daylight, while driving in a south Jackson neighborhood in March.

Jackson's unsolved homicides: where are we nationally?

Two shooters fled on foot. Rodney Byther, 17, was shot once in the back outside his home on Ventura Street in April. Zachary Gustavis, 33, was shot in a drive-by hours after Byther was killed. Timothy Smith, 21, was shot in April as he and a female sat in his truck. The car was shot more than 20 times. Investigators on the scene said they believed an assault rifle was used in the shooting. Smith died on scene.

Fred Cooper, 30, was shot in a home invasion in May. An armed assailant kicked in Cooper's front door and began firing. Cooper was shot multiple times in the upper torso and back. He died in his front yard. Johnny Brown, 49, was shot and killed in his barbershop in June. Brown, who was cutting a man's hair, was stuck multiple times in the chest by a masked man.