Homicide rate drops to zero in Canadian County

By Rex Hogan/Staff Writer
published Jan. 1, 2009

There were no reported homicides this year in Canadian County.

Paul Hesse, Canadian County assistant district attorney, said the district attorney’s office only filed one murder charge in 2008. That charge was against Bobby Bledsoe, who is accused of killing an El Reno man in 1985.

“I don’t know if that’s out of the ordinary to have only one murder case filed,” Hesse said.

“That doesn’t indicate the number of homicides in Canadian County, it only indicates the number that was filed,” he said.

Sheriff Lewis Hawkins said his department has no pending homicide investigations for this year.

He said in his 20 years in law enforcement, he can’t remember a year when no homicides were reported in Canadian County, with a population of 107,000 residents.

“I don’t know if there is a way to explain that,” Hawkins said. “I can remember when Canadian County was known as the ‘dumping ground,’” he said.

“Traditionally that’s where our homicides came from. People from the metro area, for whatever reason, decided when they committed a crime, it was easier to come to Canadian County, kill someone and dump the body here,” he said.

“We don’t have that so much anymore. Through the years, I think people are realizing that they can’t do that anymore and not pay the price for it,” Hawkins said.

Mustang Police Capt. Willard James said there were no homicide investigations in Mustang this year.

“That’s an outstanding statistic. It’s something we all can be proud of, but I have no explanation for it,” James said.

Yukon Deputy Police Chief John Corn said the statistic surprised him.

“It hadn’t occurred to me until you called, but we have nothing pending here. For a county our size, it is a surprise,” Corn said.

Hesse said it is possible that parts of Canadian County in which the Oklahoma City Police Department has investigative authority might be looking into a homicide.

“Sometimes I don’t hear about a homicide until it’s from media reports, or we don’t hear of an investigation until it’s at a stage where it is presented to us,” he said.

Phone calls to the Oklahoma City Police Department were not immediately returned.

“I don’t know of anything that Oklahoma City has,” said El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown.

He said during his 28 years on the El Reno force, the city averages one homicide a year.

He said if there have been no homicide investigations in Canadian County this year, he too believes it’s a record.

“I would say that Lewis is right about that,” Brown said, referring to Hawkins.

Hawkins said these types of crimes have been declining in the county for a while.

“In the past we’ve had homicides that occurred, for the lack of a better word, over nothing,” Hawkins said. “The decline in that type of homicide has been down for quite awhile.”

Hawkins said if there is a single explanation for the reduction in the murder rate in Canadian County in 2008, it probably has to do with the residents.

“The citizens are probably the most important part of the equation. They are more willing to get involved and pass along information. They have become one of the better crime-fighting tools,” Hawkins said.

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