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Faces Send Powerful Message

Police call this the victim lineup. It starts with James Henry Roane III, the first homicide on the first day of 2003. He was 33 and his mother’s only son. Two days later Brandy Nicole Walters, John Collins and Shin Hee Tommy Kim were gunned down by a man who then killed himself. It was a triple homicide and suicide, police explain. Three double homicides would follow — in May, August and September.

Those murdered this year range in age from five months to 63 years. Seventy-four of the dead are men; nine are women. Seventy-one of the faces are black. Seven are white. Three are Hispanic.

On March 10 Jabril L. Terry became the city’s youngest homicide victim, dying because of child abuse.

Six women were killed by their boyfriends or husbands. Their cases are closed. A seventh is believed to have been killed the same way but more evidence is needed for police to make an arrest.

Police have determined a motive in 71 cases. Mostly, it’s drugs — 25 times — or robbery — 16 times. Police have closed 35 of the cases. That’s 35 murders solved. But in 12 cases police have no idea what provoked one person to kill another.

“There are faces behind the numbers,” police spokesperson Christy Collins says.

The display, pulled together by forensic and homicide detectives, is a first for the police. Detectives and investigators hope it will help them catch killers. But mostly it’s a reminder, says Richmond Police Det. Ron Brown.

“It’s a way to visualize we’ve got work to do,” Brown says, “for the victims, for their families, for some sense of closure.”

Some of the faces are from family photos. Others are mug shots police already had on file. The rest are missing, like the white, square space that appears in a yearbook, photo unavailable. On the last panel, there are just two photos. But what’s left blank is almost as sad as the pictures — it’s room for more. — Brandon Walters

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