Violent crime lags behind Sioux Falls population growth
By DANIELLE FERGUSON and TREVOR MITCHELL
Apr. 07, 2018
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Violent crime is a hot topic in Sioux Falls.
Rising numbers and rampant headlines provide fodder for political campaigns and national media reports, including a recent national article that placed Sioux Falls as second on a list of cities where crime is "soaring" based on FBI data.
A closer look, however, shows that much of that narrative is overblown. The Argus Leader examined 10 years of data from the State Attorney General's office, focusing on violent crimes such as murder, assault, rape, burglary and kidnapping.
The numbers reveal that while violent crime offenses have risen slightly during that period, the rate is actually lower than population growth. Sioux Falls' population increased by 20 percent from 2008 to 2017, while per capita violent crime grew at a rate of 6 percent.
Trend-tracking can be beneficial in showing a city's direction and addressing safety concerns, said Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns. But changes in crime definitions, law enforcement tactics and population are all factors that play a role when crime numbers are examined.
The Argus Leader chose not to include drug possession in the tracking because controlled substance possession in itself is not a violent crime. It is, however, a felony. The number of felony arrests has doubled in the last eight years.
"Drugs are without a doubt the biggest driver in our crime, violent and property (crimes)," Burns said. "There's no doubt about that. We do know from experience that drugs contribute to the violent crime in our city."
Here's a breakdown of violent crime numbers in Sioux Falls.
What it is — Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being, whether premeditated or not. Manslaughter is the killing of another human being "without any design to affect death," or unnecessarily while resisting a crime.
The trend — It's hard to find a trend within the last 10 years of Sioux Falls murder data. Victim numbers have gone up and down, never entering double digits while also never reaching zero.
The state crime report dives deeper into the demographics of murder victims, allowing for a closer look at some of the statistics.
Of the 42 victims over the last 10 years, the most common age group is 20-24, with eight victims. Ages 25-29 and juveniles are close behind, with seven and six victims, respectively.
Twenty-seven of the victims were male and 15 were female, with 2008 and 2014 the only years in which more women were killed than men.
Over the past decade, 27 of the murder victims were white, 10 were Native American and seven were black. That means that Native Americans represented 2.7 percent of the city's population as of a 2010 census, but nearly 24 percent of murder victims.
Notable cases — Manuel Jesus Frias is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and four counts of manslaughter in connection with a January 2018 incident where police say he shot Samuel Crockett during a "drug rip gone bad." Frias faces the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
Dylan Holler was charged with first-degree murder after police say he shot and killed Riley Stonehouse during an argument about a drug-related activity in Bakker Park. Holler is also charged with the attempted murder of Jayden Eastman in the same incident.
What it is — Assault can range from injuring or attempting to injure someone, or threatening them with injury. Seriously injuring someone or threats with deadly weapons elevate the crime to aggravated assault.
The trend — Simple assault arrests have nearly doubled in the past 10 years, while the number of reported offenses remains largely the same. It's been a similar story with aggravated assaults, where arrests have more than tripled in the past decade as the number of offenses grew at a slower rate. That disparity could be attributable to factors such as legislative changes, shifting police tactics and reporting variations.
Notable cases — Jason James Schmidt was found guilty on aggravated assault charges in December 2017 after he pulled a gun on a driver — who he believed to be armed -after an argument with another driver in the parking lot of a gas station.
Tony Ledbetter pleaded guilty in August 2017 to aggravated assault charges that stemmed from an October 2016 incident where he punched and choked his pregnant ex-girlfriend before cutting off her nipples with a pair of scissors.
What it is — When someone unlawfully moves a substantial distance or confines someone for a substantial amount of time. The crime is elevated when the victim is injured.
The trend — The number of reported kidnappings and abductions was about eight times higher in 2017 than it was in 2008, but the number of arrests increased at a slower pace. Kidnapping reports have increased at a faster pace than aggravated kidnappings. The crime is elevated to aggravated kidnapping when it involves serious bodily injury to the victim.
Notable cases — Joseph Patterson was convicted in 2015 of murdering 2-year-old Tyrese Ruffin, the biological son of NFL star Adrian Peterson. Patterson was arrested on kidnapping charges while he was awaiting trial for the murder case. He was sentenced to an additional five years in prison for kidnapping and assaulting Ruffin's mother.
Jon Henri Bryant Sr. was sentenced in November 2017 to 30 years in prison after he hid in his ex-girlfriend's garage, assaulted her, forced her into the trunk of her own vehicle and led police on a chase through Minnehaha County.
The kidnappings and abductions were often committed by someone known to the victim, but not in every case.
Robert Frederick Larson, 65, was charged with first-degree kidnapping and sexual exploitation of a minor in December 2017 after he prevented a 13-year-old boy from leaving his workplace and then took the child to his home and attempted to grope him, according to police.
What it is — Sexual penetration with someone under the age of 13 or someone incapable of giving consent. Rape also occurs if the victim was forced, coerced, threatened or harmed. Statutory rape occurs when the victim is under the age of consent. It's a felony because a "consenting" minor cannot consent in the eyes of the law.
The trend — Rape is a crime difficult to accurately track. Some survivors choose not to report the offense to law enforcement and some may report an offense years later, both of which can skew data. The number of rapes reported in Sioux Falls shows a slight downward trend over the past decade, though that doesn't mean the number of actual rapes is on the decline.
Sexual crimes are often difficult to track, investigate and prosecute. Rapes can be reported to local advocacy groups or hospitals and never reach law enforcement.
Notable cases — A Sioux Falls man was sentenced in November 2017 to 100 years in prison for raping a minor behind a barn just outside Sioux Falls. Ivor Leroy Grove, 39, knew the victim's family and was supposed to be bringing the victim and victim's siblings on a day trip to Wall Lake. The victim received medical treatment and completed a sexual assault response kit.
Frederick James McAbee was sentenced to 50 years for raping a 14-year-old girl and firing a gun at her as she attempted to escape in 2015. The victim, known to McAbee, gave testimony in his sentencing hearing, saying his actions affected every aspect of her life.
Lance Miller was accused of repeatedly raping a 15-year-old girl who was babysitting his father's other children. Miller's father, Dr. Patrick Miller, was sued by the victim's family for allowing his son, who at the time was a convicted sex offender recently released from prison, to be alone with the victim. Lance Miller is serving a five-year sentence for fourth-degree rape, a type of statutory rape.
What it is — Entering or staying in an occupied structure with an intent to commit any crime. The crime is first-degree burglary if the suspect injuries or threatens another, is armed or commits the crime at nighttime.
The trend — There doesn't appear to be an overall offense trend, but the number of arrests has continuously increased since 2008. The crime is also referred to as "breaking and entering" in the Attorney General's statistics.
Notable cases — Burglary is often one of numerous crimes listed when someone is charged. Some commit burglary with the intend to steal, such as 20-year-old Alexander Vorjolo, who was charged in March for a string of burglaries and purse and car thefts dating back to 2015. Six teens were arrested in July 2017 after they had committed several burglaries in and around Sioux Falls. The group stole multiple guns and an ATV.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com