Metro-East News

Homicide rate in St. Clair County up from 2017, but down slightly in East St. Louis

St. Clair County sees homicides increase in 2018

Homicides increased in St. Clair County in 2018 despite a decrease in homicides in East St. Louis.
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Homicides increased in St. Clair County in 2018 despite a decrease in homicides in East St. Louis.

A roundup of annual death statistics in St. Clair County showed that while the homicide rate decreased in East St. Louis from 2017 to 2018, it increased by 24 percent in St. Clair County as a whole.

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. was called to at least 132 unnatural deaths in 2018, a report from his office showed. Of those, 46 were homicides.

According to Illinois State Police annual crime reports from 2006 to 2016, the average number of homicide deaths in St. Clair County is around 39. In 2017, there were 35 homicide deaths, the report from Dye’s office showed. ISP had not released annual crime reports for 2017 or 2018 yet.

The county coroner’s office does not include the number of people of who were transported to St. Louis hospitals and died there to their annual deaths report.

While East St. Louis still topped the list of cities with 21 homicides in 2018, that number was slightly down from 2017, where the city saw 24 homicide deaths.

Following that were Centreville with six deaths and Cahokia with five. Washington Park had a slight increase in homicide deaths with four. There also were two homicide deaths in Belleville, the same number as in 2017, with one each in Swansea, Lebanon, Sauget and O’Fallon, and four in unincorporated St. Clair County.

The number of homicide deaths in Centreville doubled, with six in 2018, compared to three in 2017. Homicide death rates also increased in Washington Park and Cahokia from the year before. And on the last day of the year, O’Fallon saw its first homicide in almost two years with the murder of 24-year-old Matthew Lockett, who died on Dec. 30.

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St. Clair County coroner Calvin Dye Sr. Derik Holtmann

“When you have a lot of migration to those cities, a lot of people moving around geographically, there’s a likelihood for more crime to happen,” Dye said.

St. Clair County saw 54 drug-related deaths in 2018 as well, the report showed. Of the drug-related deaths, 41, or about 76 percent, featured the presence of fentanyl or heroin. That was a slight increase from 2017, where 66 percent of the 48 drug-related deaths featured fentanyl or heroin.

“[Fentanyl overdoses] are increasing all over this area,” Dye said.

Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.