The number of homicides in Chattanooga is the highest it's been in nearly 20 years. 32 people have been killed in 2016, the most homicides since 1997, according to Channel 3 records.

The average age of the victims killed in 2016 is 28 years old.
Each victim has a story. Many of them leave behind families and children. Most of their cases - about 52% -- are still unsolved.
"Well I look at the families and the hurt and the pain that they go through." said Sgt. Michael Wenger, "I hope that they find peace, I don't know if we can help them with that, I hope that we can bring them closure."   

Channel 3 asked the supervisor of the homicide division at the Chattanooga Police Department what these numbers mean to his department.

"It means we have a lot of work left to do, is really what it means." Sgt. Wenger said, "Being a new year doesn't change anything for me and my guys."

Chattanooga Police have noticed two disheartening trends in 2016.  The number of homicides is increasing and so is the number of women who have become targets of these violent crimes.
That number is up 12% this year compared to last.

"We need the help of the community, we have to have it. Without that, many of these homicides will never be solved," said Sgt. Wenger.

Sgt. Wenger said the greatest tool to solving these cases is not the department's technology or crime scene units, but information gathered from the community.

"People solve murders, generally," Sgt. Wenger said, "So what we focus on is trying to find the people that witnesses it, that have information about it they can give us."

His goal for next year is to get more community members to come forward with information and get answers for more of these victim's families.
"We don't like it, we don't want to see an increase, we definitely want to see a decrease, we'd love to see a year with no crime. Is that reasonable?" Sgt. Wenger asked, "Probably not. But we will keep fighting that fight and hoping and believing we can get it to that point."

Sgt. Wenger said there are only eight detectives investigating hundreds of cases each year, they work all of the killings and shootings in Chattanooga.

The District Attorney's Office said the Cold Case Unit can take on any case that's more than five years old but the Cold Case Unit focuses on the oldest cases first.

Homicides in Chattanooga, according to Channel 3 records:

2016 - 32

2015 - 30

2014 - 27

2013 - 19

2012 - 24

2011 - 25

2010 - 20

2009 - 19

2008 - 20 

2007 - 16

2006 - 19 

2005 - 23

2004 - 16

2003 - 24

2002 - 21 

2001 - 26

2000 - 24

1999 - 23

1998 - 24

1997 - 36

1996 - 22