2020 in the Quad Cities: Police, officials reflect on major crimes of the year
(KWQC) - A child missing.
Police and the community combating gun violence.
A significant break in a cold case police have been efforting for nearly three decades.
The Quad Cities saw major storylines surrounding crime play out in 2020. TV6 recently spoke with police and city leaders about crime and the efforts made to combat it as a new year approaches.
May 31-June 1: A night of civil unrest
The night of May 31 and into June 1, multiple looting incidents, vandalism, and shootings rocked the city of Davenport.
The overnight shootings claimed two people’s lives and injured two others, including an officer, creating a chaotic challenge for both the city and the police.
Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski said it’s the first time in his career that “I believe we ever put out an all-call.”
“I felt, and we felt like it was all of us tackling this together,” he said. “With our community not against our community, and I think that’s something important that the community needs to hear as well.”
It was a night of chaos some have never seen. Sikorski said a lot of lessons were learned that day.
“One of the biggest ones I learned as the leader of this organization is the sheer resiliency of our staff and the amazing work that they demonstrated and continue to demonstrate throughout this day,” he said.
“We had a lot of community members that stepped up to really organize things and let people be heard, let their voices be heard, and that’s when I think the healing started to occur within our community.”
‘We need to find her’
As the year stretched further into the summer months, there was another unforgettable day involving a disappearance.
On July 10, Breasia Terrell, 10, was reported missing, setting off an investigation that would span beyond Davenport’s city limits.
“I knew in my heart that day that this wasn’t just a girl that like wondered away,” Sikorski said. “You could just get that feel. That sense that things just weren’t adding up.”
“There’s no way I can take my butt at home a second night without knowing what’s going on with my baby, so please help me,” her mother, Aishia Lankford, told TV6 on July 11.
Searches began immediately in marshy parks, on the sides of highways, in tall grass.
“We’re hoping that we can find this little girl or find any evidence, you know, that would help find this little girl,” one searcher said.
Investigators conducted hundreds of interviews and thousands of hours working on the case. Countless hours also poured in from a community of volunteers, all working together to find Breasia.
Henry Dinkins, 48, a convicted sex offender, has been named as a person of interest in the case. He remains jailed on charges of violating his sex offender registration. He has not been charged in Breasia’s disappearance.
“We need help with information so we can find Breasia,” Sikosksi said during a press conference.
Although leads have slowed down, the search for Breasia is far from over, police say. They are asking for the community’s help as they continue with their investigation.
“Anything and everything is important,” Sikorski said. “And we really are...I want to make that push for our community, to please no lead is too small.”
“We need to find her. That’s the bottom line.”
A break in a cold case
In Moline, investigators working on the case of Baby April, a newborn baby girl found in a plastic garbage bag on the banks of the Mississippi River in April 1992, had a major break.
On Dec. 17, police announced the arrest of the baby’s mother, Angela Renee Siebke, 47, of Whitehall, Ohio, on a charge of first-degree murder.
“We used DNA technology, obtained a DNA buccal swab from her, provided that sample to the Illinois State Police DNA crime lab and they did additional forensic and biological testing and we were able to determine that she’s in fact the mother of Baby April,” Moline Police Detective Mike Griffin said.
Siebke, who remains jailed on a $1 million bond, pleaded not guilty earlier this week in Rock Island County Court.
Earlier this year, Moline police announced a new development in another cold case, the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.
On Aug. 21, 1996, the 11-year-old was reported missing by her father, Dennis, from their home in Moline. On the days leading up to Trudy’s disappearance, she had asked her father to go spend time with a friend who resided on Campbell’s Island.
Appleby’s father did not allow her to go swimming, but phone records show she may have planned to go ahead with her swimming plans.
In August 2017, police released information that a witness observed Appleby with William “Ed” Smith in a late model silver Chevrolet 4-door near Smith’s residence on Campbell’s Island on Aug. 21, 1996, and listed him as a person of interest in the case.
“So whether it’s 24 years later, Trudy Appleby, or it’s four years down the road, 28 years later, every day in between, we’re going to continue to pursue justice in that case and every case of where we have a victim of a homicide in Moline,” Griffin said in a recent interview with TV6.
Gun violence: ‘It is a big community issue that we need to rally around’
Some areas in the metro Quad Cities saw an increase in gun violence in 2020.
In Davenport, confirmed gunfire incidents through November had increased 48% from 165 in 2019 to 244 in 2020. Non-fatal shootings increased by 75%, from 24 in 2019 to 42 in 2020, according to statistics released by the city.
As of Thursday, there have been 10 homicides, eight of which are gun-related.
“We’ve had an increase in shots fired, or homicides, or our non-fatal shootings are just really a challenging year for us,” Sikorski said.
East Moline police said this week they have responded to 40 reports of gunfire – 15 of them confirmed. The police department also responded to do homicides, one of them gun-related.
In Moline, there were 17 confirmed gunfire incidents as of Dec. 28. Bettendorf had three confirmed gunfire incidents.
Rock Island responded to 52 confirmed gunfire incidents and seven homicides.
One trend some police departments saw this year is shooting involving multiple victims.
Two such incidents happened early on Aug. 29 in the District in downtown Rock Island.
Officers responded to 18th Street and Second Avenue in the District for a report of a fight. The first officer to arrive reported hearing gunfire.
Officers located four people with injuries. One of them, 43-year-old Jesse Brand Jr. of Rock Island, was pronounced dead.
A short time later, officers responded to another gunfire report at 19th Street and Second Avenue and found two more people injured.
Arrests alone won’t solve gun violence in the Quad-Cities, police said earlier this year.
“It is a big community issue that we need to rally around,” Maj. Jeff Bladel, assistant police chief of the Davenport Police Department, said in an interview with TV6 in August.
While this year presented its own challenges, Sikorski said there is new advancement coming, including developing a crime analytics division, something he said is going to be huge for Davenport.
“To one prevent crime, to deal with crime that happens, and then to investigate and clear crime, when it does happen,” he said. “So, the prevention, the enforcement, and the investigation, portions of this are the critical functions that we’re going to address with the crime analysis.”
This year, the city also launched the Good Neighbor project, designed to help neighbors connect and form functioning neighborhood groups.
“If we expand that project into more areas of our city to really have our residents learn who each other are and learn to trust each other and then bring resources into them, it really works,” Sikorski said in an interview earlier this year.
The city says preventing gun crime is a priority.
“The commitment by the city and everybody involved to get after gun crime will always be the priority, in my opinion, and as long as I’m mayor, but there are so many other pieces to that,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said.
“We’re attacking this from my comprehensive place. All enforcement does their job. I think we need to continue to provide them tools. As you saw with the NIBIN system, and with the analytics to better do it.”
Following turmoil, disappearances, and a break in a major cold case, there’s hope for a better future for the Quad Cities as a new year approaches, official say.
“This terrible year of things that have hurt people badly,” Matson said. “The compassion and empathy side coming out the collaboration side and working through it and chief mentioned the lessons learned is only going to make us a better city better community. Because of the people we have doing those jobs, and in the willingness and understanding and quite frankly, again, I said the give a damn about helping folks.”
Other notable crimes that happened in 2020:
Jan. 8: Davenport police find 74-year-old Robert Long dead in his home on LeClaire Street. He had been strangled. Charlie Gary III, 20, is charged in his death.
Police say on Tuesday, just before 5:45 p.m., they were called to the 1500 block of LeClaire Street about an unresponsive person. That man, 74-year-old Robert Long, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Jan. 29: Davenport police find Danial Bradley, 46, of Davenport, suffering stab wounds in a room at the Relax Inn on North Brady Street. He died from his injuries. His nephew, Trai Anderson, 26, of Davenport, is charged with first-degree murder in this death.
March 9: Rock Island police respond to a report of an unresponsive infant, identified as 4-month-old Elias S. Austin, at a Rock Island home. He was pronounced dead at the scene; an autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the skull. The baby’s mother, Tanda M. Allee, 23, and her boyfriend, Mateo D. Williams, 21, were both charged with murder in his death.
March 16: 25-year-old Demetrius Tucker of East Moline was fatally shot in the 1000 block of 51st Avenue, East Moline. Lamont L. Williams, 26, is arrested and charged with first-degree murder the following month.
April 9: Jabari M. Scurlock, 40, of Racine, Wisconsin, was fatally shot in the 900 block of Marquette Street, Davenport. Police later arrested 35-year-old Princesun Murphy, of Davenport, in Scurlock’s death.
April 25: Kelvin Shaw, 37, is fatally shot by Rock Island police. The shooting is later deemed justified.
May 21: 59-year-old Victoria Watson is found dead in her West 63rd Street apartment. Her son, Mckinsley Watson, 37, is charged in her death.
May 23: Timon Mayfield, 33, of Rock Island, is fatally shot in 14 ½ Street and 9th Avenue in Rock Island.
May 31: Italia Marie Kelly, 22, is fatally shot near a Davenport Walmart during a night of civil unrest. Parker Belz, 21, of Davenport, is later charged in her death.
June 28: Police say Adrian W. Neely, 33, wanted on a federal parole violation warrant, struck a squad car, motorcycle, and another vehicle in the Rock Island District.
July 5: Delandres Thompson, 30, of Davenport, is fatally shot in the 1000 block of West 3rd Street, Davenport.
Sept. 3: A Bettendorf police officer fatally shoots Timothy Clevenger, who police say was holding a knife sheath to a 4-year-old girl’s neck and a machete against her torso at an in-home. The shooting was later deemed justified.
Sept. 15: Western Illinois University freshman Kavion K, Poplous, 18, of Chicago, is accused of shooting his roommate in a campus dorm. He was later arrested in Chicago.
Sept. 22: Jeffery R. Blunk, 30, of Geneseo, is fatally shot by a task force member of the US Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force during a more than 90-minute standoff. The shooting is later deemed justified.
Oct. 16: Akbar Eaddy, 27, is fatally shot after police say he exchanged gunfire with several Rock Island Police officers. The shooting is later deemed justified.
Oct. 25: Lavonta Baker, 19, of Davenport, is fatally shot in the 2300 block of West 2nd Street, Davenport. Sherral Jermain Tolbert Jr., 19, is later charged in his death.
Nov. 17: Kerry A. Dyer, 53, of Moline, is fatally stabbed in the 400 block of 17th Avenue, Moline. Police arrest Xavier Camper, 20, in his death.
Dec. 18: Rodney J. Griffin, 64, of East Moline, is fatally stabbed in his home. Police arrest two people, Kerry Clark, 60, and Precious Sims, 21, in his death.
Dec. 30: Lyric D. Stewart, 14, of Rock Island, is fatally stabbed in the 1200 block of 11th Street, Rock Island. Police arrest Jimena Jinez, 18, of Rock Island, in her death.
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