Tulsa neighbors at a local apartment complex shuddered today at the frightening news of a murder-suicide that adds another distressing statistic to continuing reports of the rising crime rate in this Oklahoma town. Although violent crime has been dropping nationally, Tulsa’s statistics have taken a turn for the worse in recent years, more than doubling the violations recorded in other areas, both in and out of the state. The increased violence ranks the metropolis number two in crime rates for the state of Oklahoma. This most recent case of murder-suicide perpetrated on a mother and two children by the father, distraught over his recent separation from his wife has neighbors considering their options for leaving the area.
Tulsa police report that 35-year old William Fuentes Godinez apparently shot his estranged wife, Maribel Ramirez Fuentes and their children, 3-year old Franklin and 5-year old Caroline early Tuesday morning. Police returned an unidentified 2-year old girl who was in Ramirez Fuentes’ care at the time safely to her family without physical injury after officers found her inside the apartment, apparently unscathed. The property manager, Lonnie Chandler, and neighbors at the Bradford Townhouse Apartments are bewildered at the horrific turn of events, describing the family as quiet and respectful, giving no signs of the impending brutality.
Nonetheless, the neighbors paint a grim picture of crime gone rampant in this Tulsa neighborhood over the last several years. The murder-suicide is only the latest in a chain of rising criminal activity. Chandler and his wife Wanda describe an increase in prostitution, gang activity and drugs that is spiraling out of control, frightening distressed residents and motivating them to find other living arrangements in safer areas. Another resident, Renee McKenzie, is convinced that the only solution is to bail out and escape the violence. She says the apartment complex has become a hangout for so many shady characters that it is nearly impossible to tell who belongs there and who does not. In addition to homicide and assault, Tulsa police report an increase in cases of rape as well, making violence an unfortunate part of the landscape in the city and adding to a climate of fear that does nothing to reassure residents and make them inclined to stay.
Neighborhood Scout’s crime data which compares the relative safety of various U.S. locales, reports that Oklahoma’s second largest city ranks in the lowest four percent. The metropolitan center even outpaces Oklahoma City in criminal activity although the capital receives more attention for its violent tendencies. City-Data statistics show that the city’s crime rate, although it dropped from a high of 700 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2005, remains at least double or more national averages. Following the 46 percent surge in murders in Oklahoma City in 2012, the ‘Oil Capital of the World’ followed suit with similar numbers in 2013, according to city police. The distressing murder-suicide brings the violent death rate in Tulsa for 2014 to 93 — 35 homicides and 58 suicides — perhaps making it a sign of wisdom on the part of frightened neighbors to flee the rising storm of crime and seek more peaceful waters.
By Tamara Christine Van Hooser