City offers rewards for unsolved killings

In an attempt to lure reluctant witnesses to come forward amid rising city homicide numbers, The City is offering rewards of $100,000 for information leading to arrests and convictions in 15 killings.

The cases, which date back to May 1, 2002, represent instances where police have exhausted every possible lead, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice head Allan Nance said Tuesday.

Police and the District Attorney’s Office have both said in the past year that they need cooperation from witnesses in order to arrest and prosecute murderers. Law enforcement officials suffered a setback May 4, when Terrell Rollins, a witness in a murder case, returned to The City against the directions of the district attorney’s witness-protection program. He was shot dead as he stood in front of a garage on Bayshore Boulevard.

The announcement of the new rewards came just a day after The City’s homicide rate reached 66 for the year. The number was 52 on this date last year.

“It’s among the panoply of things we’re trying to do to reduce the violence in San Francisco,” Newsom said of the newly authorized rewards.

The list of cases in which the new rewards are being offered includes the death ofEvelyn Hernandez, who disappeared along with her son, Alex Hernandez, in May 2002. Her partial remains were found floating in the Bay near the Embarcadero and Folsom Street several days after she was last seen, but police found no trace of Alex. Her full-term, unborn child also was not found.

Other open cases include the killing of Victor Bach, who was found bludgeoned to death inside his Treat Avenue plumbing supply business Oct. 31, 2004, and Raymond Russell, who was shot in front of his Bayview home as he loaded his sport utility vehicle for a fishing trip.

The money for the rewards will come from The City's general fund, Nance said. In order to qualify for a reward, a witness must provide information that leads to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of a suspect.

Sean Richard, a community activist and founder of the anti-violence group Brothers Against Guns, applauded the move. He said the current rewards, generally in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000, are not enough of an incentive for witnesses to come forward. “It needs to be enough money to get that family settled in and be able to make that transition. Not just a little money that’ll be able to hold them for two to three months.”

Newsom suggested Monday that recipients of the new, increased rewards could use the money for the down payment on a house in a different area or to start a business.

In addition to the rewards, Nance said, the Mayor’s Office is in the process of introducing a $2.6 million appropriation to the Board of Supervisors to help pay for an increase in policing and violence prevention efforts.

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes said he encourages the mayor’s efforts. “I think rewards are a good thing,” he said. “I think they do motivate people.”

amartin@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

The Big Game was played Friday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. (Shutterstock)
Stanford blocks extra point to stun Cal, win 123rd Big Game 24-23

The 123rd edition of the Big Game featured a number of firsts.… Continue reading

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

The 2020 Census has concluded taking responses sooner than expected. (Courtesy photo)
What does California have to lose if undocumented immigrants are excluded from the census?

By Kim Bojórquez The Sacramento Bee If The U.S. Supreme Court rules… Continue reading

Those who stick around San Francisco on long holiday weekends can enjoy a slower pace, uncrowded streets and beloved institutions like cable cars. <ins>(Kevin Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
These empty San Francisco streets: A holiday dream

We’re here because we can be, and because we have nowhere else to be

Most Read