JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the 13 years that News4Jax has been keeping track, Jacksonville has never seen more killings to start the year than the 53 reported in the first four months of 2019.
The previous high for the first third of the year was 45 in 2017, according to our numbers, which sometimes differ from police records that count homicides from prior years for various reasons.
News4Jax wants these homicide victims to be more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. Several years ago, we started a project to try to find a photo of each victim, whenever possible.
Often, those photos are provided to us by grieving families who want their loved one's story to be told. Others we pull from social media and other websites. If there's no other option, we'll even use a previous mugshot -- that's how much we want these victims to be faces, not numbers.
Statistics can be jarring, but they're easily forgotten.
Faces stick with you. Faces remind you that someone knew and cared about each of these victims. Faces might just help the authorities get answers in cases that remain unsolved.
But our effort to humanize the city's homicide statistics got much more difficult this year. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has adopted a narrow interpretation of the newly passed Marsy's Law and is no longer releasing any names to the media.
That means you'll be seeing fewer faces and more silhouettes, like in the photo above.
It's a difficult balance, we know, to protect the rights of those who have already been the victims of a crime while at the same time trying to solve those crimes and get necessary information out to the public.
We certainly don't want to cause any more pain to the victims of violent crime or the families they leave behind.
But for some families, sharing their loved one's story offers hope for justice -- or a chance to ensure that a legacy and a life are not forgotten.
Those families are why we collect the faces you'll find in the map below.
Anyone who would like their loved one's name or photo updated in our information can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone with information about any of the homicides that remain unsolved is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).