DANVILLE, ILL. (WICS/WCCU) — 2018 is going down as Danville's deadliest year with 12 homicides leading to just three arrests.
The other nine cases have gone unsolved, including the murder of Jeremiah Deneal who was shot and killed on Jan. 11, 2018.
One year and 11 homicide cases later, Deneal’s mom is beginning to doubt the justice system.
“They see it as a number,” Asia Deneal said. “It’s gotten really bad to where I had to keep calling the state’s attorney just to get answers from her to see if they were even going to try and take it to trial, or get an arrest warrant.”
Deneal said police told her there was enough evidence to make an arrest, but ultimately that decision falls on the state’s attorney.
“The charging decision is very important,” Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy said. “I tell my staff members it’s just as important to charge someone than it is to not charge someone.”
Lacy said her office works closely with police, but not for them.
“It’s not just whether we think they did it, but whether we can prove it and we have to evidence. So there’s a lot of evidence that they may gather through the course of their investigation, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the courtroom,” Lacy said.
However, police and the state’s attorney’s office agree that the violence won’t stop until the community steps up.
“How do we get the community to become a more active participant?,” Lacy said. “Police get there afterwards and everyone is gone, and we need witnesses to prove our cases.”
In the meantime, Lacy will continue to meet with victims’ families, calling it the hardest part of her job.
“I can’t ever make a victim whole,” Lacy said. “But I will say trying to explain to them and talking to them face to face, lets them ask you questions, lets them voice their frustration, their anger and get out their feelings. I think it’s all you can really do for people a lot of the time.”
Deneal said she still needs more.
“To sit across a table from a state’s attorney to tell you that 'You can keep advocating, but we don’t have any answers for you,' or 'We can’t do anything.' It’s very heartbreaking, and it really made me very upset,” Deneal said.
Out of the 12 homicide cases in 2018, three people were arrested and charged.
Christopher Condon, 19, charged with first-degree murder for the death of 51-year-old Jay Hein. Condon was also charged with aggravated arson and concealment of a homicidal death. A status hearing is set for March 4.
Yuri Lillard, 34, arrested by U.S. marshals in Colorado for the murder of Tyrell Henderson. Lillard was transported back to Vermilion County and charged with first-degree murder and unlawful use of weapons by a felon. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 11.
Bryant Marshal, 26, faces homicide charges after fatally shooting Marlene Brown in a domestic dispute. He's due back in court for a pretrial hearing in March.
Homicides on the rise:
2016: 6 homicides
2017: 10 homicides
2018: 12 homicides
Source: Danville Police Dept.
Partnering with Police:
The increase in violence has grabbed the attention of acting Mayor Rickey Williams Jr.
Williams commended police on all their hard work, and said he plans to partner with law enforcement on new policing strategies to make the streets of Danville safer.
2018 Danville Homicides:
Jan. 11: Danville police found Jeremiah Deneal, 18, dead inside a running vehicle on the 1000 block of Glenwood Drive.
Feb. 14: Firefighters found Jay Hein, 51, stabbed to death after responding to a fire at his home in the 3600 block of Bayview Drive.
June 16: Double homicide; Three people were shot at Untouchables Motorcycle Club, killing Tahji S. McGill, 17, and Albert L. Gardner, 23.
July 5: Double homicide; A couple were fatally shot in their home in the 1300 block of Lape Street. The victims were identified as LaTrey Reed, 21, and Taniyah Williams, 20.
July 21: Corey Jackson, 26, was found fatally shot in the 900 block of Koehn Drive.
Aug. 21: Danville Police found Shawn David Mullins, 43, shot to death in a car near the intersection of Fairchild and Fowler streets.
Sept. 15: Tyrell Henderson, 29, of Danville, was found lying at the edge of the street by Danville police after a shooting incident in the 2300 block of Cannon Street.
Oct. 26: Allan Bryant, 42, was shot and killed in the 100 block of North State Street.
Nov. 18: Daniel Jackson, 34, was fatally shot outside a house party in the 1500 block of East English Street.
Dec. 12: Police found Marlene Brown, 29, with three gunshot wounds to the head after a a domestic dispute in the 300 block of Washington Street . Brown died at Carle Foundation Hospital on Dec. 25.