• Though numbers are dropping in larger cities, violence keeps driving local cases.
LINDA WITT Citizen Staff Writer
Murders in Tucson rose 20 percent in 1997, and police say the causes haven’t changed.
Most cases involved domestic violence, confrontations or gang- and drug-related activities.
Meanwhile, the number of murders in the nation’s 10 largest cities dropped 10 percent. Phoenix had 192 murders, compared to 205 in 1996 and 244 in 1995.
”All we as police can do is try and address the issues that contribute to murder,” said police spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia. ”To be successful, we require a commitment from the community.”
There were 58 slayings within the city limits in 1997 compared with 48 in 1996, police said.
It’s not a record, however. That came in 1995, when police investigated 73 homicides.
A reduction in violent crimes will come from changes in how youths are raised, Mejia said.
Police will continue to do their part by educating youths about drugs, gangs and violence, he said.
Meanwhile, murders in unincorporated Pima County fell 50 percent in 1997.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department reported 14 homicides in 1997, the lowest number in a decade. There were 28 murders in 1996 and 27 in 1995.
One reason for the decline last year was the Sheriff’s Department’s Safe Streets program, said spokesman Sgt. Brad Foust.
The federally funded squad of eight deputies and a sergeant targets neighborhoods with specific problems, Foust said. Although the Safe Streets squad does not directly address homicide, it targets activities that often result in murder, such as gangs and drugs, he said.
Murders in Phoenix dropped for the second straight year, which police said partly was because of 136 more officers on the beat, a 5 percent increase.
There were 756 murders in New York as of Dec. 28, a 30-year low and a 23 percent drop from 1996′s 983 homicides.
The drop is staggering when measured against the peak year of 1992, when 2,262 died.
In Los Angeles, the homicide total was 566 in 1997, 20 percent below the 1996 total of 707 and the lowest figure in 20 years.
James Fox, dean of criminology at Boston’s Northeastern University, said the nationwide decline was due in part to the drop in violence linked to crack cocaine.
Unsolved killings haunt authorities
DAVID L. TEIBEL Citizen Staff Writer
Sixteen-year-old Rachel Boryczewski dreamed of being a lawyer and had turned her life around, her parents say, when she was shot to death in July.
Artist Amy Andrews, 36, had many friends and ”lived a peaceful lifestyle,” police say, when she was shot to death in June.
They are two of 16 unsolved murders in the Tucson area that authorities are working on because ”you want closure for the families,” police homicide Detective Benjamin Jimenez said.
”It gnaws on you,” he said of the Andrews case, ”because you know there is a pretty definite reason why someone wanted her dead.”
In Rachel’s case, sheriff’s homicide Sgt. Keith St. John believes she sneaked out of her home the night of July 18 to meet someone – but he doesn’t know who or why.
”Rachel was pretty. She was smart. She had poise. I think she could have accomplished anything she set her mind to,” her mother, Sharon Boryczewski , said in the summer. ”But whoever killed her has taken that way.”
For 1 1/2 years, Rachel tried to overcome personal troubles. The former National Honor Society student had used drugs and dropped out of Marana High School.
But her parents said she was drug-free the last three months of her life, attending twice-aweek counseling sessions and enrolling in an alternative high school.
On July 18, Rachel told her parents she was going to bed at 8 p.m. but sneaked out through her bedroom window of her parents’ Continental Ranch home.
Her body was found about 11:45 that night by a park ranger near the turnoff of Saguaro National Park west’s visitor center in the 2600 block of North Kinney Road.
Rachel had been shot more than once, St. John said.
”Even though she had some personal problems, she still had her whole life ahead of her and time to turn it around,” he said.
In the Andrews case, Tucson police detectives say they are still exploring a weak lead that she was involved with drugs.
”(But) the angle isn’t strong enough” to say the killing was drug-related, police Sgt. Thomas Thompson said.
Andrews was found dead June 3 at her dome-style home she rented in Barrio Hollywood near El Rio Golf Course.
”The feeling you got when you went into this woman’s home is, ‘Why did violence occur here?’ ”Thompson said. ”She had a relatively peaceful lifestyle.”
Andrews had gone into downtown Tucson the night before, and later a friend – a cab driver – drove her home.
He dropped her off about 9:30 p.m., and for some reason Andrews asked the man to call her early the next day, police spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia said.
When the friend got no answer, he drove to her house and found her body in a front portion of the home at 5:20 a.m.
”She was shot once. No sight of a struggle,” said Jimenez, indicating she may have known her killer. ”She had a little bump on her chin, but that was probably from falling down.”
Thompson said Andrews lived alone in the home. Her landlord, an artist, lived in a bus behind the house, Jimenez said.
There was no sign of forced entry to the home, no sign of sexual assault, burglary or robbery, Thompson said.
Jimenez said Andrews was a high priestess in a cult known as the Ordo Templi Orientis or the Order of the Templars of the East.
The group had 10 to 15 members, Jimenez said, adding he did not know if they met regularly or how often they met.
Group members believe in ”natural magic and love of the Earth – it was no witchcraft per se ,” Jimenez said.
Andrews had friends at the University of Arizona – music friends and cult friends, Jimenez said.
She also worked as an artist, doing paintings and sculptures commissioned by private clients.
No answers yet in 14 other killings
• Local detectives are still working on a number of shooting cases from 1997.
DAVID L. TEIBEL Citizen Staff Writer
In addition to the murders of Rachel Boryczewski and Amy Andrews, local detectives are working on solving 14 other killings from 1997:
• Angel A. Moreno-Tristan, 18, was shot and killed Jan. 5 during a suspected gang-related gunfight at a party in the 4800 block of South Calle Pilar. Police have no suspect in the case.
• Albert Paz, 47, came to Tucson a week before his body was found Feb. 8 near a trash bin behind Southwest Supermarket, at East 22nd Street and South Country Club Road. Paz was beaten to death.
• An unknown man found April 10 was burned beyond recognition. Authorities still don’t know his name. He was found in a burned pickup just north of the Mexican border near Lukeville. Detectives suspect he may have been killed in Mexico and the body driven through a hole in the border fence and the pickup set on fire where it was found. The 1991 Chevrolet half-ton truck bore Sonoralicense plate ZVX-5954.
• Aldo Cortez-Figueroa was dying of a gunshot wound in the street when he was found by a patrol officer in the 300 block of West MacArthur Street. Police said they suspect the killing may have been drug-related. There are no leads in the case.
• Jeanette Elizabeth Brown, 29, was found in the desert in Redington Pass by passers-by. Her decomposed body was identified through a flower tattooed on her left ankle with the name ”Dillon.” Sheriff’s detectives said Brown, who had a history of prostitution arrests, last was seen June 12 at a motel near South Sixth Avenue and Interstate 10. Detectives withheld how Brown was killed.
• Raul Lopez, 26, was shot and killed July 9 by two men who broke into an apartment he was visiting at 175 W. Valencia Road. Police suspect the killing was related to the shooting death five hours earlier of Ronald Lopez, 21, who used to live with Raul Lopez. Three people have been arrested in the slaying of Ronald Lopez, who was killed as he worked on his car at his home on East Drexel Road near South Park Avenue. The victims are not related, but police said Ronald Lopez could have been shot in a case of mistaken identity.
• Rudy Adolfo Sierra Balderrama, 36, and Alfonso A. Urias Martinez, 30, were gunned down Aug. 2 outside the front door of the crowded Las Palmas bar, 332 W. Irvington Road. Although 40 to 50 people had been in the bar when the two were shot, most had left by the time police arrived. Others said they knew nothing about the shooting. Both victims were from Mexico.
• Anthony Shorter, 29, was found shot to death near a Union Pacific Railroad line just south of downtown. A worker at a warehouse near South 24th Street and South Euclid Avenue told police he heard a gunshot about 15 minutes before Shorter’s body was found. A man in his 20s, wearing a white shirt, white shorts or pants and a stocking cap was seen walking away after the gunshot.
• Joseph Dale Sheridan, 59, known as ”Cowboy,” and a friend were severely beaten by five men Sept. 3 near a transient camp in the Santa Cruz River bed near Interstate 19 and West Ajo Way. The two men went to the Tucson VA Medical Center, but Sheridan, unlike his friend, refused to be admitted for treatment. His friend recovered from his injuries, but Sheridan was found dead at the camp Sept. 12.
• James Allen, 44, was found Oct. 30 in a shallow grave near his Arivaca mobile home. He last was seen alive Oct. 1, sheriff’s detectives said. They have not said how he was killed and have no motive for the killing.
• Johnny Bracamonte, 21, a Pima Community College student, was gunned down Dec. 9 by two masked men who burst into his aunt’s home on West Kentucky Street near South 12th Avenue. The gunmen could have been looking for someone else, police said.
• ”Papa Hobo,” about 60, was found Dec. 20, beaten to death at a transient camp in the 1000 block of East Benson Highway. His real name may have been Jim, but police are not sure. Detectives know nothing else about the man and have no motive for the killing.
• John Jessie Kawa, 37, was staying with an acquaintance in a mobile home in the 3800 block of North Romero Road when the homeowner found Kawa shot to death on Dec. 22. The homeowner told police he had gone out for the night and found Kawa’s body when he returned about 4 a.m. Police have no motive or suspect in the killing.
With money from the family and the 88-CRIME program, up to $15,000 in rewards are offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of 16year-old Rachel Borcyczewski’s killer.
People who may know who was with Rachel on the night of July 18, 1997, are asked to call the sheriff’s homicide detail during business hours at 741-4810, 911 or the county attorney’s anonymous tipster program at 88-CRIME.
Meanwhile, the crime program is offering up to $2,500 for information about the slaying of Amy Andrews, 36. Call the police homicide detail at 791-4487, or call 911 or 88-CRIME.
Authorities also encourage people who have information about the Tucson area’s other 14 unsolved murders to call 911 or 88-CRIME.
GRAPHIC: UNSOLVED MURDERS 1996-97
GRAPHIC: HOMICIDE CAUSES
PHOTO MUG CAPTIONS:
Artist Amy Andrews, 36, was found shot to death June 3 at her home near El Rio Golf Course.
The body of Rachel Boryczewski, 16, was found July 18 in Saguaro National Park west.
PHOTO CAPTION: VAL CANEZ/Tucson Citizen
Detective Benjamin Jimenez leafs through evidence and files recently in the unsolved murder of Amy Andrews, one of 16 unsolved slayings from 1997.