At the end of the annus horribilis of 2020, NPR talked to New Orleans-based data consultant Jeff Asher, who works with crime statistics, about the rise in murder rates the country saw last year.
“We’re going to see historically the largest one-year rise in murder nationally that we’ve ever seen,” Asher told the outlet.
Data he assembled showed murder was up 36.7 percent across 57 agencies. Fifty-one of the agencies reported a rise in murder, 37 of them showed murder up by more than 30 percent.
Final national murder update of 2020:
Murder up 36.7% in 57 agencies with data through at least September (though most have data through November). Murder up in 51 of 57, 37 of 58 agencies reporting murder up more than 30%.
— Jeff Asher (@Crimealytics) December 29, 2020
This year has been little better. The New York Times reported on March 16 that data from the first three months of this year show an 18 percent jump in homicides compared to the same period last year. Those raw numbers are shocking enough — but every once in a while, the harrowing human cost of those numbers and percentages is driven home.
Such was the case with the murder of Julie Eberly, a 47-year-old mother of six who was killed in a road rage incident in North Carolina.
According to The New York Times, the Manheim, Pennsylvania, woman was driving with her husband Ryan to Hilton Head Island, where they were to celebrate their wedding anniversary. On Interstate 95, in Lumberton, North Carolina, roughly 125 miles from Charlotte, police said a “road rage encounter unknowingly developed.”
Just before noon on March 25, the Eberlys’ GMC Yukon came close to a Chevrolet Malibu during a merge from one lane into another.
According to Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, the driver of the other vehicle put his window down and fired multiple shots into the passenger side door of the SUV; one ended up hitting Julie. The couple pulled over and waited for medical attention while the driver of the Malibu escaped by exiting the highway.
Julie Eberly died at the hospital, leaving six children without a mother.
Good afternoon everyone. Just wanted to keep everyone updated as we continue to search for clues leading to the identity…
“Thankfully they had left their six children at home with grandparents but now these kids have to live with the thought of their mother being murdered in such a cowardly and senseless way. My heart goes out to this family and I ask that everyone reading this stop and pray for this entire family.”
In the early Thursday morning hours, 29-year-old Dejywan R. Floyd was arrested at an apartment in Lumberton and charged with the first-degree murder of Julie Eberly, along with discharging a weapon into an occupied property.
“The arrest of Floyd is the direct result of law enforcement agencies and the community working together. The surveillance footage provided to investigators by dozens of cooperating businesses and residents were critical elements in the tracking of Floyd’s path in Cumberland County prior to the shooting and throughout Lumberton and beyond after the shooting,” Wilkins said in a statement.
“Regardless of the circumstances, no one deserved to be murdered while traveling our nations highways. I am proud of the investigative work put forth by the law enforcement agencies that came together as one to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”
The alleged murderer is being held in the Robeson County Detention Center without bond.
Thursday April 1, 2021
On Thursday, April 01, 2021 at approximately 12:38 am, Dejywan R. Floyd, 29, of…
“I know this won’t really change anything nor bring Julie back, but it gives us some peace to know he won’t be able to do this to anyone else,’’ Ryan Eberly said in a statement, referencing Floyd, according to The Times. “We are in the process of getting Justice for Julie.”
According to WECT-TV, Floyd has a lengthy criminal history, too, including “larceny of a motor vehicle, larceny of firearms, felony breaking and entering, assault and his most recent conviction of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.”
Wilkins said he showed little emotion when he was arrested shortly past midnight on Thursday.
Here are more pictures of Dejywan R. Floyd, 29, of Lumberton, taken into custody this morning.
Floyd is charged with first Degree Murder. The charges are in relation to the death of Julie Eberly, 47, of Mannheim Pennsylvania. pic.twitter.com/UaZ66mbesL
— Tonya Brown (@TonyaWPDE) April 1, 2021
“I was there this morning, just after midnight when we arrested him,” Wilkins said. “And just to look at the cold face that he’s got. His nonchalant, ‘I don’t care that I’m getting arrested’ look.
“I can only imagine what those folks saw out there on I-95 when he looked over and shot. It actually makes you angry.”
Wilkins also said Floyd shouldn’t have been free in the first place.
“In this particular case, you’re talking about a convicted felon who wasn’t supposed to have a gun to start with,” Wilkins said. “When you look over his criminal record, in my opinion, he shouldn’t ever have been out of prison to start with. But now, we’re having to deal with this all over again, and this led to a murder.”
Behind the numbers and the statistics, behind the 36.7 percent rise last year and the 18 percent jump this year, behind the hypothesized reasons and proposed solutions, this is one of the murders — one that leaves six children motherless. God help us all.
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