A police cadet guards the scene hours after a 20-year-old man was stabbed in a fracas outside the Republic nightclub in Winnipeg's Exchange District early on Sunday, April 15, 2012.
Credits: QMI AGENCY/Howard Wong
Nearly a third of the way into the year, Winnipeg has seen 12 homicides so far in 2012, which is only two less than the City of Toronto, a centre more than three times its size.
Last year's leader, Edmonton, only has three homicides so far this year. In 2011, the Alberta capital saw a record 47 homicides, causing some to dub the city "Deadmonton."
"(Winnipeg) is just a city that has always had a high rate of violent crime," University of Manitoba criminologist Rick Linden said. "It isn't much of an explanation, to say it has always been that way, but it has."
Part of the explanation has to do with what Linden describes as "social disadvantage" -- poverty in terms of income, but also family dysfunction and lower levels of education and health.
"We have high rates of poverty in urban areas and if you look at where (homicides) occur, they are in areas of high social disadvantage," he said.
Drugs and gangs can be factors in homicides, although
Linden doesn't believe many, if any, of Winnipeg's murders this year are gang-related.
While the number of homicides in Winnipeg is a concern, police say each year, the numbers tend to fluctuate.
"It is a concern given the numbers that we are seeing this year; however, (we) could go for a period of time where we don't have any homicides, and that's something that we would like to happen. It's just very hard to predict," city police spokeswoman Const. Natalie Aitken said.
In 2010, Winnipeg didn't see its first homicide until the third week of March. A year earlier, six people had been slain by the same time.
In Manitoba RCMP territory, there have been five homicides in 2012. But just like in Winnipeg, the number fluctuates. Two years ago at the same time, there were 10 killings.
"The numbers do go up and down, they vary from year to year, but we are happy so far this year they are down," RCMP spokesman Cpl. Miles Hiebert said.
While an arrest is sometimes cold comfort to the loved ones of a murder victim who is never coming home again, police always strive to hunt down a killer in hopes of bringing some degree of closure to family and friends.
It's one of the reasons police stress the need for the public to come forward when they have information on a crime.
For instance, in Winnipeg's latest homicide, detectives are still looking to talk to someone who bought beer from the vendor at the Thriftlodge motel the night Michael Parker, 33, was fatally stabbed. Police believe a man buying brew around 11:30 p.m. on April 12 would have seen the altercation between Parker and the suspect.
Though police have made an arrest, investigators believe the customer would be valuable to the case.
Of the 12 homicides in Winnipeg in 2012, four have yet to be solved.