By: Heidi Kulicke
One woman from Washington, D.C., is on a mission to uncover the red tape around the city’s homicides, one case at a time.
Laura Amico, a former newspaper crime reporter, launched HomicideWatch. org in September 2010 with the following goals in mind: “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.” Amico’s project tracks each case from crime to conviction and, in the process, has become a resource to the friends and families of the suspects and victims of deadly crime in D.C.
Victims and suspects are neatly organized into an easily searchable list, and each victim has his own dedicated page where families can leave memorials in the form of comments. Each victim page comes with a photo and biographical information, a map showing where the murder took place, and the names and badge numbers of the detectives assigned to the case. The document library holds hundreds of primary-source court records and documents. Because of its comprehensiveness, the site has become a crucial source of information about the crimes that don’t make headlines.
According to The Atlantic, Homicide Watch D.C. draws more than 15,000 visitors per month to the site. Working out the kinks and perfecting her system through a major redesign and relaunch in August, Amico is now ready to expand her product. She plans to sell the platform and software to other local media outlets in D.C. and, hopefully, across the country. With the help of her husband, Chris, Amico has created software for homicide data that could no doubt be helpful for homicide reporters.
There are no plans to sell advertising or access to the site; however, they are working toward a sustainable business model. The Amicos are offering the new software that powers their site, along with services and consultation, to help cash-strapped newsrooms better cover homicides in their areas.
The families of victims regularly reach out to Amico to express their appreciation, which makes it “tremendously rewarding” work, she said.