More murders solved but toughest have few leads

PHILADELPHIA. In the wake of Sabina Rose O’Donnell’s brutal slaying June 2, members of the Northern Liberties and Kensington communities stepped up to assist police with the investigation into the popular waitress’ death.

They have provided tips, donated money for a reward, and even made a list of the all the places with surveillance video available.

But in many communities, investigators are not so fortunate. Take the case of Don McGill, a 21-year-old floor technician at Temple Hospital gunned down last month while waiting at a bus stop with his girlfriend at 55th and Lansdowne. Despite media coverage, a description of the suspect and the last four digits of his license plate, detectives said they haven’t received one tip.

“He was brutally shot five times,” McGill’s father, Don Sample, said Friday. “Someone knows why and no one’s saying anything.”

Many attribute the divide to the “stop snitch” culture, which is pervasive in many of the city’s minority neighborhoods.

“The people just don’t want to cooperate, they don’t want to do anything,” said community activist Paul “Earthquake” Moore. “You have to have a community that’s together, not divided.”

Unlike a couple years ago at the height of a murder epidemic, detectives are solving more murders, Capt. James Clarke said last week. About seven out of every 10 murders are “cleared,” up from only about five out of 10 three years ago.

But detectives know they’ll have a harder time in some neighborhoods than others.

“We haven’t gotten one call on [McGill],” Clarke said. “I just know in certain cases we get a lot of community involvement and some we don’t.”

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