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Biatet Worey ey Ear 52 Years On Peachtree Street “A Dearth of Witnesses ‘Stuart Culpepper Paul Hemphill William Schemmel “They were all nasty. They all smelled like them nasty old goats, and they didn’t bathe” (page 63) ri Strona Avrisng ofa a 28 Harfelé Roa Alain, Cari 32. TAepon (oa depuriens A 269, inked by Conmncnon Chute! Jr Shons Peay 1 Keake tee Ser tine bate wh i a, be “We are still trying to police the city the way we did years ago, but it’s not the same city any more. The criminals we've got now are smarter and meaner — more professional” (page 74) Metro Dining ened WS Thomas Cook Lee Water Tom Hout 128 Clasitied/Barsar 6 GreatStuff ill Morcha ietarN aad ‘Alix Kenagy Rebecca Roles 142 Playgrounds: Sculpture Is Fun antanta $ A Dearth Of Witnesses By Stuart Culpepper * Photography By Fristoe Kent Contrary to popular detective mythology, most real whodunits are solved by citizens’ willingness to tell what they know about a crime. Homicide detectives with the Atlanta Bureau of Police Services say the worst thing they have to deal with is lack of public cooperation. Homicide, n. The slaying of one human ‘being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, just- fiable and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another = the classification is for the advaniage Of the lawyers = Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary If vou are afraid of being murdered, there is more safety in deserting your Family and having no friends than in ad- ditional police, who rarely have the op- portunity to prevent friends and relatives from murdering each other. — Ramsey Clark Former U.S. Attorney General Crime in America ‘There are times when homicide is justi able. Indeed, there can even be a moral requirement for homicide, “ G. Gordon Liddy Thou shalt not kil = Exodus XX? 13 ‘Three young men worry their offense ce ports, cursing illegibility and lack of de- tail “Ya know what?” Detective L. W, Henslee asks loudly and rhetorically. He fs always loud, often thetorical. “They should teach handwriting at the Acad- femy. These reports look like they were wwritien by doctors instead of patrol “it wouldn’t hurt if they learned to spell, either," adds a fourth young man, Set. David Steltenpohl. The dapper Morning Watch supervisor lovingly rolls ‘thin cigar between his long fingers, ig- poring the reports. Nobody laughs. Having been at work ince midnight, they're too tired and irritable, According to the ill-favored wall clock in thelr spartanly equipped cramped and dirty office, it’s 7:15 a.m, Tn 45 minutes, they ean’ go home, but for now they lethargically wade through ‘@ morass of reports, calling victims and ‘witnesses of assaults. Well-dressed in suits and highly pol- ished shoes or boots when they came 10 work, their coats now wilt on chait- backs, their ties loosened and askew, Their hair is neatly trimmed and combed, though, and they could easily be mistaken for bankers or insurance ex- ecutives but for the .38 revolvers on their hips, under their arms or riding their ankles. They are not good loan risks, how- ever, because their salaries are lousy and theit jobs don't make them welcome vis- itors in the offices of insurance under. writers. Yet, in a bureau of hundreds of employees, they are considered the elite, the créme de la créme. They are Homicide detectives with the Atlanta Bureau of Police Services and, incredibly, they are — for the moment = bored. As of this Monday morni May 19, 1980, there have been only 76 criminal homicides committed or discov- ered. The majority of these — 56 — have been solved. The cases still open are by no means forgotten, but they re- ‘quire new information to become really active again. ‘Contrary t popular detective mythol- ‘ogy, most real whodunits are solved by citizens’ willingness. to tell what they know about a crime. thas been a quiet, rainy night, ‘The radio hasn't requested a Homicide unit Even the telephone has been relatively silent, One of the detectives growls and hhurls the depariment’s daly bulletin at a waste basket. “You know the biggest difference be- tween us and the Boy Scouts?”” he asks the room-at-large. “No, what?” the others chorus in unison, already smiling at an old joke. “The scouts have adult supervision!" ‘The phone rings and is snatched up in mid-jangle, “Homo-cide! Oh, hi what's happening? What's the body count? Anybody shot, stabbed, choked, poisoned or spanked? ..... Oh, that’s ‘what you wanna know, 1 thought maybe you'd know something, being with the news an’ all... Well, we got zer0 bodies this morning. How "bout that? It was too wet for killin’, T guess Okay, bye Defective Bob Buffington shuffles up a pile of finished reports and files them ‘away, calling to Steltenpohl. “Gimme some more, Sarge. I've done all I c with these." Danny Agan and Henslee quickly of- fer their stacks. Although the murder rate is slow at the moment, the city’s 22 Homicide detectives, three Sergeants and fone lieutenant ate also responsible for investigating kidnappings, assaults and any shooting involving a police officer, ‘As the result of a skyrocketing assault rate, the squad suffers from a perpetual logjam of paperwork, no matter what the body count ‘As Buffington i energetically deluged with every piece of paper in sight radio erupts with @ request for Homicide unit on the air” to respond, Buff catches the call, and the 31-year ‘old, sandy-haired former nare with kind, crinkly eyes is given a Southeast Atlanta address for a 48" — “person dead.” Danny and L, W. offer their com: pany, and the three race for the eleva- tor. Three floors down, they spill out ‘nto the wer, littered parking lot and pile into one of the city’s rapidly deteriorat: ing, unmarked Plymouths. ‘Twenty minutes later, the three detec~ tives and vo patrolmen stand in rain- water and mud behind the Hope You Like It bar, concentrating on the body of a small black boy. There are wounds fon his head, side, chest and an arm. He is sprawled on his back, fully clothed. A bicyele with flat tires lies near him, ‘There is very little blood. Buffington calls for an Identification Unit technician and the Medical Exam incr. He notifies Sgt. Steltenpohl that he has a “possible” homicide. ‘They pace the area, searching for any signs which might tell them what hap- pened. "This might sound stupid,” offers a rookie patrolman, “but why’ couldn't it be an accident? What if he jus’ fell off that slanty roof up there?” “The only stupid question’s the one you think of but don’t ask,” Henslee fells him patiently, looking up at the bar's roof. “J don't think so, “1 don’t either,” Agan interjects Henslee concludes.