At the onset of 2015, a 24-year-old Lancaster woman killed her baby and hid the body.
It was the first of many homicides this year.
In fact, with 16 homicides reported in Lancaster County, 2015 tied with 2012 as the second deadliest year here so far this century.
“I am definitely concerned by the nature and depravity of some of the cases this year,” District Attorney Craig Stedman said Wednesday.
The first homicide of the year was on Jan. 2, when an infant, Ja’Zirah Rodgers, was killed by her mother, Shondraya Dickson. Dickson pleaded guilty to killing her daughter in September.
The most recent was Dec. 5, when Anthony “Dudie” Hunter Jr., a 26-year-old former basketball star, was killed in Lancaster Township. Andre Maurice Shelton Jr., 27, of Coatesville, was charged three days later.
Stedman said charges have been filed in 11 of the county’s 16 homicides.
As for the peak number of homicides this past year, Stedman said he looks more at long-term trends than a given calendar year.
“Unfortunately, we are always going to have domestic cases and drug-related murders,” he said.
It could have been more, he added. Stedman credited the “outstanding trauma unit” at Lancaster General Hospital for keeping the homicide rate lower than it might have been.
By the numbers
There have been, on average, 12 homicides in Lancaster County each year since the turn of the century, according to newspaper reports.
The high mark was 2006, with 21 .
The low mark was in 2005, with only six homicides.
In more recent years, the number has held in the teens: 16 in 2012, 14 in 2013 and 10 in 2014.
This year, eight homicides occurred in Lancaster city, three in Lancaster Township, two in East Drumore Township and one each in Manheim Township, Millersville and Ephrata, according to newspaper records.
A look back
Here’s a look at some of the homicides here in 2015.
Devonte Gantt, 22, was found dead Jan. 4 after a shootout involving two other men on High Street, in what police called a drug deal gone “terribly bad.” Stefon Landing was sentenced in November to up to 45 years in prison for the shooting.
Yarra Wilson, 42, was shot and killed Feb. 28 in the bedroom of their Lancaster Township home by her husband, Avery Wilson, who then turned the gun on himself.
On May 19, Anthony Gomez fired at police who were trying to arrest him; an officer was wounded, and Gomez was killed in the exchange of gunfire. Stedman, who declined to identify the officer who fired the fatal bullet, ruled the death a justifiable homicide.
Leeton Thomas will face the death penalty when he goes to trial for the killing of Lisa Scheetz, a 44-year-old Quarryville woman, and her 16-year-old daughter Hailey on June 11. Police have said Thomas killed them while out on bail to make sure they couldn’t testify on charges he had molested Hailey and her sister in December 2013.
Julio Garcia-Camacho, 28, of Lancaster, died three days later, after being shot multiple times in southwestern Lancaster.
In a series of city shootings, Luis Santiago, 26, died after he was shot in the face at a party Sept. 5 on East Chestnut Street. Edward Cameron, 30, was shot to death Sept. 7 on East Mifflin Street. And Rahdir Jahi Maxton, 21, was shot to death on East Fulton Street on Sept. 12.
Jared Weaver, 19, was shot to death Sept. 27 in the parking lot of Advance Auto Parts, 1003 E. King St.
Nicholas Vassallo, 22, died from multiple gunshot wounds Oct. 5 near Grandview Heights in Manheim Township. Robert Ashmore Peters IV of Kirkwood was charged.