MANATEE COUNTY, FL--- 2013 comes to a close with a significant drop in the number of murders. There was just 13 homicides throughout the entire Manatee County area in this past year. That's down from the 27 murders reported in 2012.
Earlier this year several law enforcement agencies in the county came together to form a Joint Homicide Task Force. So, far only a few the 13 cases they've investigated remain unsolved and several of those are almost closed.
"A young man by the name of Mathew Arguez was shot in front of his residence, he later died on the 25th of July," said Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells.
Wells, is talking about an incident that occurred on the 300 block of 14th Street West around midnight on July 8th. The is case one of the 2013 unsolved homicides.
"We've still looking for some additional information. We know there are people in the area that saw what happened but the only information we have gathered at this time is that the suspect or suspects were in a white van. And that came from Mr. Arguez himself before he passed," added Wells.
The other homicides that remain unsolved occurred in the Bradenton and the Manatee County areas. One was on the 4300 block of Eighth Street Court East, where Lyteenon Collins was shot to death. Another was the beating death of Damen Gilbert, that occurred on the 1500 block of 21st Street East.
There was also the shooting that happened after a football game at the 13 Avenue Dream Center, which officials are still looking for leads. The open cases represent a small portion of the work the Manatee County Homicide Task Force has been tackling.
"We've had 13 homicides here in Manatee County, 10 of those have been solved by the task force and I think we're seeing great results because of the cooperation of all the agencies," said Wells.
The task force includes detectives from all the law enforcement agencies in the county. Major Connie Shingledecker from the sheriffs office heads the unit and she say the decrease in homicides and their ability to solve the crimes is evident.
"All and all this unit has come together and worked very well and we've done what we've wanted to accomplish," added Shingledecker.
Officials ask that you call Crime Stoppers if you have any information about any of the unsolved homicides.