Tulsa Police Department dealing with obstacles in solving homicide cases

A look into Tulsa homicide investigations

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Police Department’s homicide unit is investigating multiple homicides in late July while two detectives are home showing COVID-19 symptoms and others are being monitored for coronavirus.

The City of Tulsa had three homicide investigations in three days last week -- while also learning a victim in an earlier shooting died -- so they are investigating four homicides in the last week alone.

Tulsa has 45 homicides on the year as of July 27, and five are unsolved. The department’s homicide unit is used to only dealing with one or two cases at a time.

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July 27, 2020 - A look at homicides in the City of Tulsa by July 27 in 2020 compared to past years.
July 27, 2020 - A look at homicides in the City of Tulsa by July 27 in 2020 compared to past years. (FOX23)

Homicide Lt. Brandon Watkins says their workflow is slower right now for several reasons -- most notable, is the coronavirus.

Most detectives are working remotely, only going in on an “as-needed” basis.

Watkins says staying home has been beneficial for the paperwork side of investigations because they can concentrate more easily, however, it’s harder when it comes to gathering evidence and talking to witnesses.

Watkins, says they have had several other incidents or events that have needed their attention this year as well, slowing down the workflow such as detectives quarantined at the beginning of the pandemic, resources were needed for President Donald Trump’s visit, two officers shot during a traffic stop, and working with federal agencies following the Supreme Court ruling earlier this month involving native American tribes and crimes happening on tribal land, which includes much of the city of Tulsa.

Watkins says the unit solved all but two of Tulsa’s more than 60 homicides last year. He’s confident the same will happen this year; he says they just need a little more time.

July 27, 2020 - Looking at a list of homicides by month in 2020 in the City of Tulsa
July 27, 2020 - Looking at a list of homicides by month in 2020 in the City of Tulsa (FOX23)