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CRIMETRACKER: Women increasingly victimized and suspected in violent crimes

Updated: May. 19, 2022 at 10:05 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - When it comes to homicides in New Orleans, the number of female victims has increased every year since 2019, when 15 women were killed. In 2020, 28 women were slain and in 2021 the number rose to 33.

One of the most high-profile homicides in recent months was the brutal carjacking murder of Linda Frickey.

Julia Dardar became one of the city’s first murder victims of 2022. Investigators found her body dismembered in a freezer inside of a bus in the backyard of Benjamin Beale’s 9th Ward home.

Julia Dardar
Julia Dardar

From January to April this year, 404 women became crime victims in New Orleans; 100 of them were shot.

Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission says it’s unclear if the majority of female shooting victims were targeted or simply caught in the gunfire.

“A lot of these shootings are mass shootings,” says Goyeneche. “And they may be looking at one or two targets but they’re in a crowd and the people that are in the crowd are the collateral damage.”

Either way, he believes the city’s uptick in mass shootings has contributed to the number of female victims.

New Orleans Police
New Orleans Police(WVUE-TV)

Out of the city’s 200 carjacking victims this year, nearly half of them were women.

In Mid City, two men pushed a woman to the ground and threatened her with a knife to hand over her keys before taking off in her car.

Justin Brown, a former NOPD officer, has been on both sides of the law. Now, he offers criminal justice advice on the Instagram account “Empower You NOLA.” He believes women are targeted when it comes to carjackings.

“They believe a man is bigger and strong and they to dominate the woman,” he says. “These suspects are opportunists. They are waiting for the right opportunity to strike.”

“They’re so brazen,” Kris Williams says. “You’re watching over your shoulder to make sure you’re not noticing any suspicious activity but then sometimes you’re just blindsided and you cannot prepare for that.”

Some women are worried just to pump gas.

Dr. Aarti Pais stepped in to help when police say Tyrese Harris, 18, carjacked, dragged, and ran over a woman pumping gas at Costco.

“They took her car, yes, but they left her there to die. It’s more than just a carjacking,” Dr. Pais says. “She was likely a wife, a mother. She was likely my age and I kept thinking that could have been me.”

“They recognize that in many instances a woman is an easier target,” Goyeneche says.

But women aren’t always victims, they’re also committing crimes.

Police have arrested 53 women since the beginning of this year, accused of either aggravated battery or carjacking.

“What we have seen is more and more young females are aiding and abetting and being a part of some of the violent crimes that are being perpetrated by some of the male offenders,” Goyeneche says.

Seven females arrested for carjacking this year were between the ages of 10 and 19.

“I think it’s like a game for them,” Brown says.

Brown believes young women, in general, are more willing now than ever before to join in on criminal activity and sometimes act alone.

“They are desensitized to crime,” he says. “They’ve seen death... loved ones die in front of them. So mental health is definitely important.”

One victim is lucky to be alive after a surveillance video showed two women attempting to carjack another woman in Mid City. When she refused to hand over the keys, the suspects fired two shots at her as she drove away.

“What happens when summer comes? What happens when everybody’s out of school? It’s going to be a long summer,” Brown says.

“More and more females are engaging in types of violent crime activity,” Goeyeneche says. “Violent crime is no longer just a male-centric event.”

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