AFTER six months of 2017, there is a new trend in Winnipeg homicides: victims are younger.
So far this year, just two of 13 victims are older than 40: Irvine Fraser, a 58-year-old bus driver who was stabbed to death, and Judy Kenny, 44, who was allegedly slain by a neighbour in Wolseley. In the same period last year, eight of the 13 victims were older than 40.
According to information available publicly, the average age of a homicide victim this year is 33 — seven years younger than the 2016 midway and year-end average of 40.
Figures show accused killers are younger, too, albeit slightly.
In 2016, suspects ranged from 19 to 61, with the average alleged killer being about 29.
This year, the average age of an accused is 27. The youngest is a 14-year-old who is accused of being involved in the Feb. 6 slaying of Canon Beardy, while the oldest is Brenda Schuff, 44, charged in the slaying of Kenny.
On Thursday, police spokesman Const. Rob Carver wouldn’t draw conclusions from the variation, saying data from one year to the next don’t have statistical relevance.
He did point to Winnipeg’s methamphetamine trade as a major driver behind crime, and said meth is a young person’s drug.
"It’s not a drug addiction that tends to have a long lifespan — it kills people, so we don’t have a lot of old meth addicts," Carver said.
Men continue to dominate the list of accused and victims this year. Nine of the 13 who were slain were men, and 15 of the 20 identified accused were men. Nineteen of last year’s 26 victims were men.
So far this year, four youths have been charged, while none was charged last year.
Winnipeg’s homicide rate had been declining annually, from 39 in 2011 to 22 in 2015. Last year’s 26 put an uptick in the graph’s straight line.
Police have had success identifying and locating victims this year. There have been charges in all 13 homicides. At the end of last year, three cases remained unsolved. Police have since named suspects in one case.
"I don’t want to say we solve homicides out of luck, but... for our ability to have the kind of solve rate we do now, there is an element of the stars have to align for us, and I think that’s what happened this year," Carver said.
He attributed part of the success to social media.
"Our ability to arrest suspects, I think, is being enhanced by our ability to penetrate social media deeper and ask for help," said Carver, noting social media doesn’t necessarily help police get information to lay charges.