Homicide Tracker tells victims’ stories

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It’s become the new normal. On average, someone is killed nearly every four days in Kern County. It’s an issue often only reported in snapshots. 

We created the Homicide Tracker in an effort to give a greater perspective.

In many cases the victims’ stories aren’t told with details going unreported. Our goal is to change that.

“Our children are no longer safe behind locked doors.”

Three-year-old Major Sutton and his 5-year-old brother, King, were playing and watching YouTube videos with their mom when two masked men busted down their apartment door and opened fire.

Major was killed. His brother and pregnant mother left wounded. 

It happened just a couple blocks from were 5-year-old Kason Guyton was killed in a drive-by shooting. 

Data shows where that killing took place has the highest number of killings. It’s part of the 93307 zip code where 16 homicides happened this year. That’s down from 21 last year. 

93305 is the second deadliest area with 14 homicides, four more than 2016. Those areas also include so-called gang territory.

Bakersfield Police Department Captain Joe Mullins says no killing in the city should go unsolved.

“The attitude that anybody has in this city that there is such a thing of just gang members shooting each other and that we shouldn’t be concerned about that … That’s ridiculous,” he said. 

“This tolerance of any level of gang violence is exactly what leads to the death of children.”

Law enforcement confirms gang ties in 17 homicides this year. But, without an arrest, details of why the killings happen are often unknown.

In recent years, about 60 percent of homicides remain unsolved.

“Marcus was a sweet, funny, caring boy. Very loving.”

19-year-old Marcus Delouth, Jr. was a graduate of Golden Valley High school where he played football. 

He had a bright smile and a bright future, but all of that was taken away when he was shot multiple times outside the Kern Housing Authority on Meyer Street in Arvin. 

Marcus’s mother Lawanda Harris was asked to identify her son’s body.

A year later, Delouth’s family and friends gathered at Green Lawn Cemetery to ensure his case isn’t forgotten. 

“I want someone to be held accountable for taking this life,” Harris said. “This is somebody that was loved by so many people, who loved so many people. You took his life.”
     
In 14 cases this year, investigators named a suspect, but the person either hasn’t been found or charges haven’t been filed. 

“Kristin didn’t deserve this.”

Kristin Goldsberry was shot in the head during an argument. 

Cori Cotton is accused of killing Goldsberry. Cotton’s boyfriend, Bret Stroud, allegedly helped Cotton bury her body in a shallow grave in a remote area of the southern end of the Sierra-Nevada mountains, east of Bakersfield.

Cotton and Stroud pleaded not guilty and in November and the cases were dismissed.

The district attorney’s office says it plans to refile charges, but in the meantime, Cotton and Stroud are out of jail. 

Our study also brought to light a string of killings with striking similarities.

“The homeless people … They’re being left for dead.”

Three men who appeared to be homeless were killed this year with no apparent motive. They were all shot to death within a few miles of each other in East Bakersfield.

Lorraine Olivas’s father was one of them. 

“It’s so crazy because the details are so similar to our dad’s,” Olivas said.

“I think that their cases get put on the back burner and I wouldn’t have known any details or information. I wouldn’t have known.” 

As families search for answers, Bakersfield police Captain Joe Mullins has an encouraging message.

“There is no such thing as a cold case. We are always working those cases and we will not give up,” Mullins said. “There is no statute of limitations for murder and we will follow through forever. That will not stop.”

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