New York City and the Miami area had a record-breaking number of murders in 1981, but officials in Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit reported declines in their homicide rates.
New York City had 1,833 slayings during the year, breaking its 1980 record of 1,821, officials said late Thursday. That figure included an 87-year-old man who was shot and killed as he carried groceries through the lobby of his Manhattan apartment building Thursday.
Dade County, Fla., officials reported a record-setting 612 homicides in 1981, compared to 566 murders in the Miami metropolitan area in 1980.
But in Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit declines were reported in the unofficial numbers. Official statistics won't be computed until medical examiners have reported their findings on people who died during the final hours of the year.
Officials in the nation's capital reported 234 slayings during the year -- including three on New Year's Eve.
'The numbers went up so fast it was like watching the numbers run up on a gasoline pump,' a Washington police spokesman told UPI.
Capt. Jimmy Wilson, chief of homicide detectives for Washington, D.C., said the number of 'mystery victims' has been on the rise in that city, making it harder for police to solve a case. His office had 74 homicide cases unsolved at the end of the year.
The number of homicides in Los Angeles dropped about 8.5 percent in 1981 from the previous year's record of 1,028, even though there were 300 fewer police officers on patrol, authorities said.
Los Angeles Police Commander William Booth, who said 898 homicides had been reported by Dec. 30, also noted police in the nation's third largest city arrested 65.6 percent more homicide suspects in 1981 than they did in 1980.
Chicago police reported 876 murders in 1981, slightly less than the number killed in 1980 and a sharp drop from 1976 when more than a thousand people were killed.
In Detroit, 539 people met violent deaths in 1981, compared to 584 in 1980.
In Houston, Texas, 699 people -- including 21 juveniles -- were killed during the year and in Oakland, Calif., 132 people died, including a high school honor student slain two days before Christmas as she walked near her home.