The newly minted New Haven Police Department Cold Case Homicide Unit has solved its first crime.
New Haven Police Chief Frank Limon announced Friday that Craig “Mousey” Hines will be charged for the June 1, 2000 murders of Lamont Brockenberry and Lakeia Vaughn. This 11-year-old double homicide was solved by the newly formed partnership between federal and local organizations that culminated in the NHPD/FBI Cold Case Unit. The unit was created in October by Limon as part of the Chief’s initiative to decrease violence in New Haven by solving more crimes.
“The Cold Case Unit’s success is the product of hard work and persistence that reflects the police department and the city’s commitment to protecting its citizens and making sure that those who commit crimes pay for their crimes,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in a Friday press release.
During a a Jan. 12 press conference following the official announcement of the 85 percent increase in murders from 2009 to 2010, DeStefano and Limon said they are also committed to solving more recent murders. They have improved these efforts recently, but the department’s history is still dotted with murders yet to be solved.
Between May 2009 and May 2010, the NHPD investigations division only cleared 10 percent — two of 20 — of its murder investigations. Since May 2010 — one month after Limon was sworn in as the NHPD chief — the department saw a dramatic improvement and solved over half of recent murders, success which police officials said means detectives will now be able to work on older homicides with the cold case unit.
“You can’t predict murders,” Limon said in January. “The only thing you can predict is your strategy and your abilities to employ your resources, and if you employ them in the right way … they work.”
During a community dialogue at Barnard School on Derby Ave. two weeks ago, Limon told nearly 75 community members and police officers that he considered making the streets safer one of his top priorities. But, he admitted, “it takes a while to build cases.”
Yet while NHPD investigators work on homicide cases, new murders continue to occur at a rough rate of one or two every month, sapping at least some investigative attention from the older cases. But now, with the creation of the cold case unit, Limon said he seeks to change this problem.
The unit’s first success came with the charging of Hines for the June 1, 2000 murders of Lamont Brockenberry and Lakeia Vaughn on Winthrop Avenue, in Whalley, according to Friday’s press release. The release also said Hines has a violent criminal history which involves narcotics trafficking in support of gang-related activity. Hines is currently in federal custody on unrelated charges.
“I cannot overstate the importance of this type of task force and effective collaboration with our partners in law enforcement,” Limon said.
According to the press release, the Cold Case Unit was created in conjunction with the FBI Safe Streets Gang Unit, NHPD Major Crimes Unit and the NHPD Tactical Narcotics Unit.