One intersection. Seven unsolved homicides.
That's the tally for the cross streets of San Pedro and 84th dating to the late 1980s. The spot is typical of many in South and Central Los Angeles where extraordinary numbers of people are murdered and the killers are never caught.
Unsolved homicides -- killings for which no suspect is ever arrested -- are stacked up block by block, mile by mile, in this part of Los Angeles.
From San Pedro and 84th streets, they stretch east, west and south -- two on one street, six on another, a massive number of killings which, taken together, create a chilling map of violent lawlessness.
For years, most of the city's homicides have been in Watts, Wilmington, South-Central, Hyde Park and other neighborhoods south of the Santa Monica Freeway and along the Harbor Freeway. Detectives there juggle higher workloads and solve crimes at lower rates.
As a result, the Los Angeles Police Department's South Bureau, which patrols most of this part of the city, has accumulated a backlog of more than 2,400 unsolved homicides over the last 15 years.
Nowhere in the San Fernando Valley or the Westside is there a similar concentration of killings, let alone unsolved ones. South Bureau, for example, has more than three times the number of unsolved homicides as the LAPD's Valley Bureau, even though it covers only one-fourth the area.
In scores of interviews in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, people describe how fear, and the conviction that serious crimes are not solved, makes them reluctant to confront homicide, unwilling to cooperate with authorities or act as witnesses, and disinclined to place their faith in the police. The murders pound home the fact that unpunished killers are on the loose and perhaps nearby.
Mia Wofford, whose son, Brian, was the most recent slaying victim to die near the intersection of 84th and San Pedro, recalled as a child hearing grown-ups in the neighborhood talk about violent crime. " 'Don't say nothin',' " she remembered them saying. "You were afraid if you said something, you would get retaliation.... You didn't run to the police, because you knew nothing was gonna happen."
Brian, 21, her only son, was an assistant manager at a Food-4-Less market. He was fatally shot on June 3, 2002. His killer has not been caught. LAPD Det. Eric Holyfield said he knows there were witnesses, "but nobody wants to be the one to step up."
Darrik Cobb was killed near that same intersection. So were James Williams, Victor Nunez, Alfred Vicuna, Derrick Young and Robert Parker -- who died in 1988, 14 years to the day before Brian Wofford was slain. No one has been charged in any of those homicides.
There are about 41 unsolved homicides per square mile in South L.A., compared to just over three per square mile in the San Fernando Valley. The effects of this disparity, though marked, are understated.
Most of South and Central Los Angeles is made up of working-class black and Latino neighborhoods: stucco cottages, fenced front yards, potted plants on porches. Boulevards are dotted with apartments and the same fast-food chains found in most neighborhoods: Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jack in the Box. People play dominoes in the parks, wash their cars in driveways, sit on their porches. Parents push strollers, children walk to school.
But a Times computer analysis of data from the LAPD showing dense concentrations of unsolved homicides in these areas reflects a troubling history that locals understand all too well.
"You speak out around here, you done get killed," said Promise White, 18, standing south of Florence Avenue and Figueroa Street, within one block of seven unsolved homicides. White saw a recent double killing nearby, but says she did not even consider talking to police.
In South Los Angeles, more than half of all killers are never caught. Police said those who have not been killed themselves or jailed for other crimes usually don't travel far.
"These guys stick within their territory," said Det. Jerry Pirro of the LAPD's Newton Division. "We used to have a saying: In this division, you will probably find your killer within a quarter-mile of the scene."
Of the more than 11,000 homicides in Los Angeles since 1988, there are nearly 6,000 in which no arrest was made. About 2,400 of those are in the 58 square miles of the LAPD's South Bureau, and 2,000 are in the 65 square miles of the Central Bureau. The total for the two bureaus means that nearly three-quarters of all the city's unsolved homicides are concentrated into one-quarter of the city's total area.
Los Angeles police have launched new efforts in recent months to combat the killings in South and Central L.A. -- boosting the numbers of officers and increasing arrests. But one of their biggest challenges may be a long history of people getting away with murder and the deeply entrenched community attitudes that result.