Covering murder and mayhem in Los Angeles for the Times, Jill Leovy has been driven crazy knowing that for every homicide that captures the media eye there are others that pass unacknowledged. Starting today, her homicide blog at LATimes.com will try to record at least some of the facts about every murder in the county, every week.
Many violent deaths become, in essence, private homicides -- catastrophic on a small scale, invisible on a broader one.
Starting with this week's homicide report, however, the Times will list all homicides reported to the Los Angeles County coroner, plus additional information gleaned from street and law enforcement sources. This week's list is larger than usual because of a January crime wave, but otherwise fairly typical in terms of the ages and ethnicities of those killed and the manner of their deaths.
Their number includes a young woman found on a Playa del Rey roadside, a young couple mysteriously shot, then set on fire, and a Valley man who placed himself between his landlord and an attacker and died for his courage.
Leovy emails: "The homicide report is something I've dreamed of doing for years....this is my way of throwing a stone at the monster, and I hope people at least glance at it. At the very least, seeing all the homicides arrayed in a list like this will give readers a much more real view of who is dying, and how often. And for me, it means no longer having to confront weeping mothers who say their sons' deaths were never covered by the press."
The blog links to the sheriff department's very informative web site LA County Murders.com, redesigned since I last saw it. Note if you go there: last year's total of 402 murders (26 so far this year) and the map showing where they occurred includes just areas patrolled by the sheriff and the city of Pasadena.