UPDATE (2/24/21): An arrest has been made in one of the two remaining unsolved homicides from 2020. This arrest brings the countywide solve rate to 30 out of 31 homicides or 96.8% and the solve rate for the City of Camden to 95.7%.
Camden, N.J. – Acting Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer is announcing the county has recorded its highest homicide solve rate in the history of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
In 2020, there were 31 overall homicides in Camden County; 23 of the homicides were recorded in the city of Camden and eight were recorded in the county suburbs. In 29 of the 31 homicide cases, an arrest has been made, bringing the solve rate to 93.5% for the county and 91.3% for the city.
“First I’d like to offer our condolences to the victim’s families, as it’s our wish that we could be announcing there were zero homicides in a year. We treat each homicide case we receive with the same attention and dedication to finding the person or people responsible, and our Victim Witness Unit has worked hard to provide the families the support they need after such a tragic event,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. “We have gone back as far as our data has been recorded, and never have we seen a solve rate as high as we have in 2020. I am so proud of the hard work of our homicide Assistant Prosecutors and detectives, who often work around the clock to find those responsible, provide justice to victims’ families, and keep our residents safer.”
While Assistant Prosecutors and detectives said there’s no definitive way to trace such a high solve rate to one factor, the Unit attributes some of the success to an advancement in technology giving them a place to start. That lead is then followed by detectives specifically assigned to the homicide unit who have shown extraordinary drive in solving cases and an Assistant Prosecutor who is available to provide legal guidance within the confines of N.J. law so that the office may build the strongest case possible and use every item of evidence at trial that detectives work so hard to uncover.
“In Feb. of 2020, we began a new on-call rotation for our seven homicide detectives that would essentially move a detective to the bottom of the list so they could dedicate as much time as possible toward solving that case before they were assigned another,” said Capt. John Hunsinger, who served as Lieutenant of the Homicide Unit until 2021. “Previously this rotation was done using a formula that sometimes meant a detective could be back on call within 2-3 weeks, and thus increase the likelihood of that detective getting another homicide in that short period of time. We think this change has played an important role in allowing detectives the ability to identify and track leads more quickly. Not being on the rotation allows them the time to focus on their most recent case during those crucial first days.”
Of the 29 homicides solved, 21 arrests were made within one month of the crime and another six arrests happened within two months of a homicide.
“Our Assistant Prosecutors are in constant communication with the detectives receiving the latest information to ensure once a perpetrator is identified and enough evidence is collected to warrant a charge, that process begins immediately,” said Homicide Unit Section Chief Christine Shah. “Having an AP readily available to approve charges for presentation to a judge and issuance of an arrest warrant allows the United States Marshals Service to quickly take dangerous individuals into custody. Conscientious assistant prosecutors working together with diligent homicide and crime scene detectives allows us to achieve the ultimate goal of bringing some sense of justice to as many victim’s families as we can.”
The Unit’s work, combined with the work of the municipal police detectives, is another important factor in gathering evidence, securing witness interviews, and following leads.
“The cooperation and assistance from the Camden County Metro Police Department and the municipal departments we work with is paramount to solving these cases,” said Mayer. “Most of us live and work in Camden County, and we are dedicated to protecting our neighbors and keeping our community safe. We hope to continue this success in the years to come and we thank the community for their cooperation and support in such a difficult year.”