PHILADELPHIA has had 47 homicides in 64 days this year, far exceeding last year's homicide tally of 34 at this time and surpassing New York City's current homicide count of 45 - in a city with 6.8 million more people.
The staggering numbers - which include several high-profile slayings that remain unsolved - are in stark contrast to the significant drop in homicides the city experienced last year, when the final homicide count of 247 was the lowest since 1967.
"I think what would be fitting to say is what was said at this time last year when we were down - it's still too early," police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said. "It's too early in the year for us to get in panic mode."
The murder-arrest rate for Philadelphia police this year is 45 percent, including arrests made this year on old or cold cases from previous years. A spokesman for the New York City Police Department declined to release its arrest rate for 2014. New York City has had 10 fewer homicides than at this time last year.
This year's most notable unsolved slayings include that of Amber Long, 26, who was shot to death for her purse in front of her mother in Northern Liberties on Jan. 19, and Melissa Thomas, 29, who was shot to death for her purse on Feb. 2 as she left a bar in West Philadelphia.
Police also are still seeking clues in the killings of Donna Muller, 49, and her son, Rich, 22, both shot to death in their Lawncrest home on Jan. 19, and the execution-style slayings of three men inside a Lawndale home during a heavy snowfall on Feb. 13.
Philadelphia is on track with 2009, when the city ended up with 302 slayings.
"We obviously want to have the numbers as low as possible, and we're going to continue to do some of the things we did last year . . . to try and get the numbers down," Stanford said.