By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
Of the five Killeen murders committed this year, the only homicide case that is 100 percent closed is a murder-suicide that occurred in January.
Police have a suspect in two murders, one who remains at large. As for the other two, no warrants have been issued and those crimes remain under investigation.
At this pace, Killeen will have 12 murders by the end of the year. It would tie a three-year high.
To take someone's life is perhaps the most heinous crime person can commit. No one, especially Killeen police, take them lightly. But murders are often random, in-the-moment crimes. Predicting when and how many will occur in a given time is all but impossible.
Capt. Lee Caufield, head of Killeen Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division, said comparing time periods can be an arbitrary process.
"To simply compare this year to last year provides no clear predictable pattern to what will occur in the next week, or in the coming nine months," Caufield stated in an email.
Caufield said murders occur at varying rates. Killeen is a small enough city that a single murder changes the overall outlook of yearly statistics by a large margin.
The biggest challenge facing KPD is finding witnesses willing to provide information that may lead to arrest, Caufield said. Fear of retaliation can lead them to keep quiet.
"Many people have information but simple fear impedes the information gathering process in many of our cases," he said.
To help encourage potential witnesses to come forward, KPD participates in Crime Stoppers. The program allows people to give the department critical information without revealing their identity. All tips are anonymous.
On Jan. 17, Vance Thomas Delano Jr. was killed by his 15-year-old son, Frederick Delano. The younger Delano is believed to have shot his father while he slept in his bed.
The teenager then turned the gun on himself. He was a student at Ellison High School.
Keary Jerrell Flowers, 29, was shot to death Feb. 19. Police are searching for a "person of interest" in the shooting, though no suspect has been named.
Flowers died after he was shot in the 1700 block of Cedarhill Drive. Police have named Don Walter Carter Jr., as a person of interest in the investigation. They believe he may have information that could lead to an arrest.
Carter is also wanted on a warrant out of Harker Heights. He has been charged with aggravated assault. Police caution that he is armed and dangerous.
Carter is described as a black male, 5 feet 11 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes. He has tattoos on his hands, left arm and neck.
Flowers' murder occurred the same day as another shooting death in north Killeen. Lynn Wilford, 32, was killed the morning of Feb. 19 outside an apartment in the 200 block of East Garrison Avenue.
Police have charged 39-year-old Mario Lamont Lewis with murder. Lewis remains at large.
Lewis' appearance is distinctive in that his estimated weight is 525 pounds. He is a 39-year-old black male, 5 feet 11 inches tall, with black hair and brown eyes.
The fourth murder was the execution-style shooting of a Copperas Cove man. Marcus Antonio Gonsalves, 22, was found shot in the back of the head by a passerby March 18. His body was located in an empty lot in the 7000 block of Osbaldo Drive in a southeast Killeen neighborhood.
Police have not released the names of any suspects sought in the murder and no one has been charged.
At the time, police officials stated they believed the murder occurred sometime the late at night March 17 or in the early morning hours of March 18. It is believed Gonsalves was killed at the site where his body was found, across the street from a neighborhood playground.
The most recent murder occurred Saturday morning in a parking lot in the 1100 block of South Fort Hood Street. Justin Sheldon Richardson, 25 and a Fort Hood soldier, died at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center after being shot in the chest in a Killeen parking lot. Another Fort Hood soldier, 27-year-old Michael Fitzgerald Reese, was in custody Saturday afternoon at Killeen City Jail, awaiting arraignment on a murder charge.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.
Sources: Texas Department of Public Safety, KPD