Arkansas Authorities Baffled by Violent, Deadly Summer

AUGUST 11, 2006 - Posted at 8:16 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A double murder this past week pushed Little Rock's murder total past the total for all of last year, while sister city North Little Rock has already doubled its murder tally over last year.

In Camden, a teenage boy was arrested on a murder charge in the death Monday of an 11-year-old girl.  Fort Smith police said a woman killed by a gunshot wound to the face was murdered by a man with whom she was trying to break up.

This summer has brought record hot temperatures and record murder tallies to different parts of Arkansas.  Police say they are baffled over a string of violent murders that have occured in different parts of the state this week.

A double slaying Tuesday pushed Little Rock's murder total this year to 42, already surpassing the 41 murders investigated throughout last year.  Little Rock is on a pace to have 70 homicides this year, just shy of the record 76 killings in 1993 amid the city's gang wars.  Police attribute most of the homicides to drug trafficking or abuse.

North Little Rock Police Chief Danny Bradley says he doesn't know if there's one particular factor that's fueling the killings throughout the state.  Bradley said the largest factor for North Little Rock and Little Rock is the overcrowding of the Pulaski County jail.

Craighead County has recorded four homicides this year, with three of those having come inside the Jonesboro city limits.

Overall, the total number of murders in the state is only slightly higher than last year, with the state Crime Lab reporting 152 homicides as of Thursday.  During the same period last year, the lab reported 145 killings.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)