Unsolved homicides have grieving family reeling, demanding justice
BATON ROUGE- There's a high probability of murderers not getting caught if they commit their crimes in Baton Rouge. That's according to homicide statistics over the past two years in the city limits.
According to the website, BatonRougeCrime.com which tracks homicides across the city, over the past two years there were 118 homicides. Of those 118, 57 remain unsolved. That's roughly half of them.
Although clearance rates vary over the past two years, it's not easy for family members affected by violence who are now taking matters into their own hands.
October 24, 1015 is a day family members and friends of Johnson Armstrong and Corey Steptore won't forget. Two men were killed inside a home at 6258 Dutton Street. Behind the crime tape, detectives found them inside stabbed to death.
"That day we lost someone very special to us," Teka Steptore, Corey sister said.
Teka remembers her brother Corey as someone who was out to change the world.
"He was loved by everybody in the community and his school," Steptore said. "He was an instructor at Blue Cliff so all of his students looked up to him, just a great person."
John Armstrong's uncle says his entire family is also feeling a sense of loss after Johnson was killed. He did hair out of his Dutton Street home, and a woman who was actually getting married that day made the gruesome discovery.
"Johnson was the type of person who would give you the shirt off of his back," Allan Armstrong said. "He never bothered anyone."
After gathering evidence, authorities left that same day. Steptore and Armstrong's murders happened the same week another double murder rocked Baton Rouge. Suzanne and Dennis Duplantier were killed in South Baton Rouge. Their bodies were discovered at a truck stop in Hammond. Top law enforcement brass assembled a news conference that same week, to announce they had a suspect, Ernesto Alonso. Later, they announced Frank Garcia was also in on it.
"I want to make sure everyone understands, although it's unique for Baton Rouge, it's no different than any other murder that occurs in 70802 or 70805, anywhere in our parish," District Attorney Hillar Moore said at the press conference in October of 2015.
But, family members of Steptore and Armstrong wonder if that actually is the case. Since leads in their loved ones murder cases have run dry. Initially, Steptore says detectives were forthcoming about the case, but over the past few months, they haven't been able to get anyone on the line.
"We feel like had it been someone else or somewhere else, maybe the case would have gotten more publicity and maybe the detectives would have dug a little deeper," Steptore said.
"I think this is one of those cases they put on the he back burner, and we'll see about doing it later," Armstrong said.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said no two murder cases are alike, and it's not fair to compare one with leads to one that doesn't have any.
"In the Highland Road murders, there was technology there with license plate readers," Moore said. "There was a suspect immediately."
Baton Rouge Police echo those sentiments and say their detectives work hard to solve every homicide in the city.
"In this particular case, somebody knows something, we're investigating it still," Baton Rouge Police Spokesman L'Jean McKneely said. "We've gathered everything we can gather and are waiting for that bit of information, that tip, that one thing that will point us in the right direction so we can go after that individual and put him in jail."
Steptore's family is taking matters into their own hands.
"We're wanting to offer a $10,000 reward to anyone who can bring fourth information that can lead to an arrest in this case," Steptore said.
They hope their reward will get people's attention and bring the killer or killers to justice.
In the process of working on this story, the Steptore family said says they were contacted by detectives yesterday, after not hearing from them for two months.