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Police launch site highlighting unsolved murders

The Philadelphia Police Department is hoping to get answers and spotlight victims with new website.

Orlando Martinez was supposed to be showing a house in Holmesburg when he was found shot. SOURCE: PHILADELPHIA POLICE
Orlando Martinez was supposed to be showing a house in Holmesburg when he was found shot. SOURCE: PHILADELPHIA POLICE

Orlando Martinez was a real estate agent, and, on Oct. 31, 2018, he was found with gunshot wounds inside a car on the 4500 block of Oakmont Street in Holmesburg, where he was planning to show a house that day.

He was rushed to the hospital, but the 54-year-old South Jersey man died from his injuries. No arrests have been made. 

Martinez’s murder is one of more than 100 homicides featured on PhillyUnsolvedMurders.com, a website launched Thursday by the Philadelphia Police Department aimed at bringing closure to the families of murder victims.

Under a brief description of each case is an area where users can submit tips, anonymously or not, that can help detectives locate suspects and, hopefully, solve the murder.

“Losing a friend or loved one to murder is devastating, and not knowing who is responsible for taking their life further deepens the profound pain of loss,” Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said in a statement. “While solving cases does not bring back those whose lives were taken, it can offer victims’ families and friends some sense of closure.”

Police department officials said the website provides an additional pathway for people who may have witnessed something to report it. 

A standing reward of up to $20,000 is offered for anyone who gives police information leading to an arrest and conviction in a murder case. 

The platform also puts a spotlight on murder victims, whose names often fade out of the news days after they are killed. Families can submit pictures and reflections to appear on their loved one’s page on the site.

“Duane was a father, uncle, brother and an awesome son who loved everyone,” the family of Duane Hicks wrote on his page. “To know him was to love him. He cared for everyone he came into contact with.”

Hicks, 25, died after being shot Dec. 19, 2018, on the 2000 block of Wilmot Street in Frankford. 

Duane Hicks was killed in a shooting in Frankford. SOURCE: PHILADELPHIA POLICE

Most of the homicides are from 2018 and 2019, though there are a couple colder cases, including that of Police Officer Frederick Cione, who was fatally shot in 1970 while on-duty in North Philadelphia. 

Officials said the department will be working to upload older unsolved cases onto the site as quickly as possible.

As of Monday, there have been 221 homicides this year in Philadelphia, according to police statistics, and many killings go unsolved. In 2018, authorities made arrests in 44 percent of homicide cases, according to WHYY.

In addition to using the site, tipsters can email tips@phillypolice.com or call 215-686-8477. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com.

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