JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The new year has brought new violence to Jacksonville with six murders within the first eight days of the month, but even with those troubling numbers comes success.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, five of those six cases have produced arrests.
Last year, the department investigated 115 homicides -- 94 of those were murders, leaving 49 murder cases that remain unsolved.
Channel 4 crime and safety expert and former JSO deputy, Ken Jefferson, said the first thing investigators look at in these cases is who is closest to the victim and more often than not, the common denominator is a loved one.
Jefferson said the killer always leaves something behind.
"You have two priorities," said Jefferson. "Get the bad guy and get them prosecuted for the victims."
It's those two priorities the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office appears to be excelling at in the new year.
"That just goes to show you that there's good police work combined with a passion to want to get the bad guy," said Jefferson, referring to the five arrests made by JSO.
Jefferson said the work of a homicide detective is grueling and time consuming -- work that includes an inside and outside perimeter, and countless hours combing over evidence, circumstances and motive.
"They really have to go in and recreate the whole scene just like it was prior to the incident happening, that way it makes sense," said Jefferson. "Then, they can explain it when they go into a court of law."
Those first to face a Jacksonville judge in 2014 include 45-year-old Michael Day, charged in the botched murder-suicide of his girlfriend, Kendra Nagy.
Keith Collins Jr., 24, will have his day in court again soon in connection to the double murder of 21-year-old's Latricia Johnson and Emanuel Robinson at the Canterbury Gardens apartments on the westside on Saturday.
"I'm disappointed we've had such a violent start to the new year," said Jefferson. "Given our history over the last few years, it's not surprising, but I'm disappointed."
Police said it was disappointment over how barbecue meat was being cut that prompted 35-year-old Alvin Welch to fatally beat 31-year-old Joshua Heinz with a baseball bat.
"They know each other," said assistant chief Chris Butler, with JSO. "They may have run into each other three to five times. They had mutual friends in common."
The lone murder that remains unsolved is the apparent drive-by shooting death of 25-year-old Juan Shanks.
"Yeah, you're essentially working backwards. It can be somewhat challenging at times," said Jefferson.
Investigators are still looking for suspects in the drive-by shooting case involving Shanks. If you have any information, you're asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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