INDIANAPOLIS — As the Indianapolis homicide rate climbs, the cases keep piling on for the two dozen homicide detectives at Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Detectives have worked 566 homicide cases in three years. Many of the victim's families are still waiting for the cases to be solved.
"It's been hard. I shed tears every day of my life. Nobody really knows how it feels," Wayne Rollins said.
The Rollins family has been grieving the loss of two loved ones.
Michael Rollins Sr. and his son, Michael Rollins Jr. were shot and killed in October of 2021. The case has yet to be solved.
"I don't want to see another family go through what we have went through," Tammy Rollins said.
It's the waiting that the family says makes it harder but they also say they want more information from detectives.
The Rollins men are just two of the 208 homicides Indianapolis saw last year.
IMPD says it's a hefty case load for the 31 homicide detectives in the department.
"The case load is not where we want it to be. We do have a lot of cases that we do expect our detectives to work," Captain Roger Spurgeon said.
Spurgeon is a Captain with IMPD's homicide unit. He says they're trying to figure out a balance for their detectives.
"We have all of these things we are trying to juggle, and keep our work force healthy so the state of the cases can be healthy," Spurgeon said.
Spurgeon adds it's important to make sure the teams work-life balance is managed too.
"I don't care how many cases you have. Find time to get on that phone and say hey you are still in our thoughts, we're still working on it," Tammy said.
Spurgeon says his detectives can't risk the integrity of a case.
"It is human nature to want to know and to be informed at every step of the way as to what is going on with your loved ones case, we get that. We understand that," Spurgeon said. "It may well be that there are many things that are going on behind the scenes that we simply can not share with families."
The Rollins family says no one will answer their calls.
"I called everyone that I thought that I could call, I just got tired of calling because no one answers. No one responds to messages or anything," Wayne said.
Spurgeon said detectives work a case the minute they are called to the scene, and adds that no news doesn't mean the case isn't being worked on.
"Some cases are very quick to be able to be solved because there is good witnesses. Good evidence, video, all of the things that are necessary to help us make a case. Other cases not so much. Those things don't exist or there is only bits and pieces of it that exist," Spurgeon said.
When a homicide happens, IMPD also has a victims assistance team.
The victims assistance team responds to a homicide scene and work as the middle man between victims families and police.
"My job is to just try to get them the resources so they can get through as best as they can," Lisa Brown said.
Brown works as the victims assistance manager for IMPD.
"We want families to know that we are there, and we will be there as long as they will allow us to be," Brown said. "We don't want anybody to ever walk this road alone."
In order for detectives to solve a case, Spurgeon says they can't do it alone.
"We're the police and we should be solving crime. Yes, that's our job. That is what we get paid to do. But we can not do it alone, we absolutely need the help of people."
Spurgeon says it's important for Jury's to hear from real people. People who actually saw what was going on and knew the people involved.
He says it comes across better for a jury than a detective showing them how they pieced the puzzle together.
But for mourning families, like the Rollins, they just want a bit of closure to their loved ones cases.
"If we're unable to solve those cases that's something that wears on the detectives. So obviously it's no where near the same degree to a family member or to a loved one. But from a professional standpoint they don't want those cases lingering," Spurgeon said.
If you have any tips on crimes, police ask you to call 317-262-TIPS. You can stay anonymous.
Captain Spurgeon encourages people with unsolved cases to reach out to him directly if they feel their case isn't being looked into properly. His email is email@example.com