LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Lee County Coroner Bill Harris has been in that position since 1998. He said 2016 was a very tragic and busy year for his office. As the number of homicides tripled from 2015 to 2016.
Coroner Harris said when he has to pronounce someone as deceased, he is bound to five manners of death: natural causes, accident, homicide, suicide or undetermined. Coroner Harris said based on the definition of homicide, his office saw 30 homicides this year.
“I attribute it to people just don’t care and not having any regard for human life anymore,” Coroner Harris said. “You can look all the way around the country at the numbers there and they have increased.”
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said 2016 was a busy one for his office as well. In 2015, they investigated four murders. In 2016, that number increased by 2.5 times to 10. Sheriff Jones said of those 10 investigations, nine of the victims knew the defendant. He added that they have made arrests in nine of the 10 murders and anticipate making an arrest in the last case very soon.
Sheriff Jones said that homicides are difficult to predict since in most cases, they are driven by emotion, and adds that he is hoping for a brighter 2017.
“We feel that working with our young people through our school resources division and encouraging the settlement of conflict by other than violent means, I think that’s something we should always try to instill in our young people that there are other ways to handle a dispute besides resorting to violence,” Sheriff Jones.