“Everything about that night from the beginning to the end was horrible.”
On Tuesday, November 17, Krystal Woodhouse was visiting family at a home on Grace Street in New Haven. Her oldest son, 24-year-old Tylee Bellamy, told the family he’d be right back, and went outside.
“Five shots went off we all got down to the ground,” said Woodhouse.
NBC Connecticut to Woodhouse in December. She said she remembers calling 911 begging for help. That night, Bellamy became the 20th and final murder victim of 2020, nearly double the homicides from the year before.
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Woodhouse said that Bellamy is her first child, explaining that he's the one who made her a mother during her own difficult childhood.
“This is like the worst nightmare that anyone would have to go through. I’m going through this and I don’t know why,” said Woodhouse. “To go through so much in life, to have that little boy at 15, have a horrible childhood, and for someone to take him away from me? I’m hurt, I’m angry.”
The 2020 homicide trend continued this year. By January 16, Jorge Osorio was among four people killed. New Haven Police that many by mid-January is something they’ve never seen before.
Jorge’s family and supporters gathered outside police headquarters in early March asking New Haven Police for updates.
“He was a really good person he was a hard worker,” said Osorio’s uncle Jose Romero. “He used to send money to Mexico to support his parents.”
“I feel helpless, I feel like they’re not giving enough attention to the case because he was Hispanic,” said Romero.
Woodhouse even posted on Facebook that she feels her son is being treated as less of a priority than a Yale student.
POLICE FOCUS ON IMPROVING COMMUNICATION
NBC Connecticut shared their thoughts with New Haven Police. Assistant Chief Karl Jacobson said he spoke with Woodhouse following that Facebook post.
“I would say she was very receptive, but I agree with her concerns,” said Jacobson. He added that he understands how not enough communication can cause families to feel like they’re not being supported.
Acting Chief Renee Dominguez said they are making changes and improving communication is a priority.
“It’s very important to be more transparent with each individual family. Because each case is going to be different,” said Dominguez.
With that in mind, they said information from the public in the Jiang murder helped identify a suspect quickly. That's key in all homicide investigations.
“We do have some cameras we do have some other tools, but the biggest part of a homicide investigation is eyewitness accounts,” said Jacobson. That’s a missing part of the Osorio homicide investigation.
“I feel for that family. They deserve justice,” said Jacobson. “There were a lot of people out on the street that day, nobody is talking to us. We need them to talk to us, and we especially need the family, if they hear anything, to let us know too.”
Police say the news conferences on the Jiang case were because of local and national interest, and because they had a suspect who fled the state.
“In a different homicide situation where somebody hasn’t fled, when you put out that they’re a person of interest, first of all, you’re putting people at risk,” said Jacobson.
The person could then run or retaliate. So, Jacobson said police often keep details in local cases quiet, but they use all of their resources to solve them.
“We’re close on a lot of homicides; we’re close on a lot. We have two warrants down with the States Attorney’s Office, we have two going down in the next week or two,” said Jacobson.
REORGANIZING THE DEPARTMENT
“If you went from last year to the end of January, you’re looking at 27 homicides assigned to four people. It’s extremely difficult,” said Jacobson.
The four detectives in the homicide department do their best to keep families updated and respond to calls. Acting Chief Renee Dominguez says it won’t work. So, they’re reorganizing parts of the department.
“It’s something we need to do, we need to see how it’s going to work because we know that we’re down on resources right now,” said Dominguez.
They’re creating a Major Crimes Unit in a structure they used in 2011 when there were 30 homicides. Now, 20 detectives plus sergeants from other departments will be assigned to homicides in teams of five.
“Before they would just take non-fatal shootings, overdoses, other jobs. But we’re going to add homicides to that job so that homicides are dispersed among 24 people instead of five,” said Jacobson.
The city also continues to work directly with federal partners, meeting with them four mornings each week. They said it’s a unique set up.
“In those meetings we have the FBI, DEA the ATF, every division of the police department, probation, parole and we talk about the violence from the night before,” said Jacobson. “And that doesn’t happen everywhere. So, I would say to those families we are using every resource we can.”
They also use the U.S. Marshals for suspects who flee, like the search for Qinxuan Pan who is wanted in the murder of Jiang.
“There’s several cases, even last year in 2020 we had a murder on Rosette Street at the liquor store, and that was put out by the U.S. Marshals. That was highly publicized by the U.S. Marshals,” said Jacobson.
They believe the new structure will help detectives spend more time on cases and offer better ways to keep in touch with families.
“They want to solve them too. It’s heartbreaking. They take those cases home, they want to help the people that lost their loved ones.”
And, he said, they’re making progress on several cases, including four that span between 2019 and this year.
“We’re close on a lot of homicides, we’re close on a lot,” said Jacobson. “We have two warrants down with the states attorney’s office, and we have two going down in the next week or two.”
Police said they’re gathering more information on the death of Bellamy. His mother says waiting for answers.
“I lost my son. And I’m not looking for nobody to blame but the person who shot my son.”