STOCKTON, CA - More than three dozen men, women and children handed out flyers with hopes of finding clues that could help solve the murders of their loved ones.
The group, Victims of Violent Crime, gathered on the corner of Hammer Lane and Holman Road in Stockton from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. They gave away pamphlets filled with nearly 40 cases of unsolved murders.
"Our police department is overwhelmed," Victims of Violent Crime member Joyce Tuhn said. "Our detectives are overwhelmed. This is something we can do to help without interfering with the cases."
"There's a frustration level," Stockton Police Officer Joseph Silva said. "We know there's someone out there that has information on these cases."
Silva said there haven't been any arrests in nearly 50 percent of murders in Stockton since 2008. Many older cases, like that of 20-year-old Sophia Ulloa, have also gone cold. Ulloa was stabbed to death 12 years ago on Christmas Eve while taking her 4-year-old daughter's presents out of the car.
"Why did they have to do what they did to her in order to take her life," asked Ulloa's grieving mother Tina Torres. "It doesn't get easier. It gets harder. The not knowing who did it or why. What did Sophia do to them for them to do this to her?"
Stockton police have more than 300 officers, but only 12 are dedicated to the homicide unit. Silva said they only have one reserve officer who volunteers his time to research cold cases.
That's one of many reasons why Victims of Violent Crime is trying to get the public to give any information possible that could help solve the murders of their loved ones.
"Even if it's something they heard or a rumor, it's something that will let us go back out into the field to try to piece a case together," Silva said.
By Natalie Sentz, firstname.lastname@example.org