Reward payouts rare in homicide cases, but potential keeps offers coming

LA Times / The Homicde Report
Posted Feb. 13, 2015, 5 a.m.

homicide reward 50k LAHow effective are the rewards offered in homicide cases? Payouts are rare, but detectives say they still believe in them, and politicians continue to approve them.

In the LAPD’s latest reward announcement, $50,000 was offered Thursday for information in the shooting death of Moses Nelson, a 32-year-old father of three who was gunned down by an assailant on a bike in November.

It is the third reward announced this month for tips in homicide cases. On Feb. 5, $50,000 was offered in the case of Antonia “Toni” Yager, who was stabbed in December inside her home near Larchmont Village. A day later, the city and the Police Department announced $75,000 for information in the killing of Bert Crump Jr., 17, who was shot Aug. 22 in Vermont-Slauson by a gunman on a bike.

In the Nelson case, an image of the bike-riding gunman was captured on video.

“Other than that, our leads kind of ran dry,” LAPD Det. Leonardo McKenzie told a room of TV cameras and reporters Thursday morning.

That’s when investigators may turn to the public for help.

“We get some of these that are complete whodunits,” said LAPD Det. Richard Arciniega, who is investigating the Nelson case.

Still, in 16 years of working homicide, he said, he’s paid out rewards only twice. In many cases, rewards come with the caveat that the information must yield results.

Arciniega said he hasn’t lost faith that money could motivate witnesses.

“Fifty thousand dollars to a lot of people is a lot of money,” Arciniega said. The money, he added, can help someone leave a rough neighborhood.

In Los Angeles, a reward typically starts with the investigating detective, who puts in a request to the City Council. Detectives say the victim doesn’t have to be one whose case generates significant attention or to have been killed in a posh part of town. The reward amounts vary depending on the circumstances, and the council usually approves the request.

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