Macon police responded to three homicides within 13 hours of each other, starting Sunday afternoon.
Lt. Carl Fletcher, who supervises the violent crimes unit of the Macon Police Criminal Investigation Division, said the first 48 hours after the bodies are found is the prime window to find witnesses.
"They're willing to step forward," Fletcher said, "give information and help the police. But the longer it takes to solve a crime, the more the people start getting blasé and tend to go about their daily life. So we're reaching out the first 48 hours to try to find as many witnesses as we can that at that moment a,re fed up with the senselessness of the crime."
Fletcher said that's about where the similarities end between popular crime shows like A&E's "48 Hours" and real life. He said a work day in the life of a MPD detective doesn't wrap up neatly at the end of the hour, but gets long and tedious.
"Some people seem to think we take too long to solve a case, but if you mess up on any part of an investigation and you mess up in a courtroom and you loose that case because of sloppy work, you can't go back and try that case again. So it might take a while, but we're talking about the most violent of crimes, which is taking someone's life, so we want to make sure we do it right the first time because we may not get a second shot," he said.
Even if it takes a while, Fletcher said, the homicide detectives have a good track record of catching a suspect. In 2009, they solved all of their 18 cases. Last year, they solved 19 of 22. So far this year, they've had seven homicides, but they're still looking for whoever killed 27-year-old Larry Hixon Jr in his apartment on Edna Place Road in March, 35-year-old Alfred Smith in the Wings Cafe parking lot around 2 a.m. on July 25, and Lauren Giddings, whose body was found next to her Georgia Avenue apartment on June 30.
Detectives say one of their most-important crime-solving tools is the willingness of the community to share what they know about the case. Fletcher said solving a crime is like a detective standing in the middle of a circle with each of the 360 degrees as an option, but only one arrow pointing to the truth.
"If we don't get that arrow from the citizens, we're just going around in a circle trying to figure out which way to go, when someone can just pick up the phone and say go in this direction," he said.
He said with the public's cooperation, murders can be solved quickly and not only save taxpayer money but also give a family the closure of knowing who killed their loved one.
"It's fulfilling to know that you've outsmarted a bad guy and just give closure to the family," said Fletcher. "Just to let the family come up and hug your neck to say thank you, and a lot of our guys look forward to walking up to a family and saying I solved your case."