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Springfield residents call for independent investigation into unsolved homicides

A group representing the families of homicide victims and missing people in Springfield is calling for an independent investigation into unsolved cases in the city.

MORE, which stands for Mothers Overlooked Reaching out Empowerment, claims that since 2017, there have been more than 40 homicides in Springfield that have gone unsolved. The police department has not responded to multiple requests to confirm that number.

MORE Executive Director Juanita Batchelor said she's heard from families of victims who believe race is a factor in the lack of progress on those cases.

"Nobody shows that they care that their kids [are] being gunned down in the street, because of the color of their skin and because of what area they were raised in," Batchelor said.

Batchelor said an independent set of eyes besides the Springfield police is needed.

"We want an investigation where there's nobody biased and just really want to figure out how to solve these cases," she said.

In addition, as Springfield distributes federal COVID-19 money, the group wants officials to make sure it gets to neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence — for things like affordable housing and youth programming.

Batchelor said she also wants some funding for the Darrell Lee Jenkins Jr. Families of Homicide Resource Center, which is affiliated with MORE. The resource center is named after Batchelor's son, who was murdered in 2014, according to MassLive.

Spokespeople for the police department and Mayor Domenic Sarno did not respond to multiple requests for comment as of Friday afternoon.

Copyright 2021 New England Public Media. To see more, visit New England Public Media.

File Photo / The Republican / Masslive
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The Republican / Masslive

Adam is based at New England Public Radio’'s Berkshire County news bureau in Pittsfield, where he has been since August, 2015. He joined NEPR as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.