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Six Individuals Indicted In Five Homicides

Date Posted: Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
Categories:  Criminal Department of Justice DOJ Press Releases

Grand jury hands up indictments in 2010 Wilmington cold case, 2014 Village of Windhover shooting, 2015 Vandever Avenue shooting, 2015 Rodney Square stabbing, 2015 Hockessin murder victim found in car.

Six defendants were indicted by a New Castle County grand jury on Monday, December 21 in five homicide cases, including three murders from 2015, one from 2014, and what had been a cold case from 2010. Department of Justice prosecutors do not recall ever having indictments in five homicide cases in a single day.

“Justice is being pursued in all five of these cases – some from this year and some older — because of the unending efforts of our prosecutors and of the police agencies that serve these communities,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “Their tireless efforts go a long way to help make our neighborhoods, cities, and state safer.”

One case dates back to 2010, and was solved through the combined efforts of the Wilmington Police Department’s Cold Case Unit and the Department of Justice Homicide Unit. During an argument in the 600 block of South Franklin Street in May 2010, Erik McNeely, 35, of Newark, fired three shots, killing Abel Flores. McNeely faces one count of first degree murder, and two counts of attempted murder.

“Sometimes people think a cold case must be solved with new technology or tests, but this case was able to be solved after five years because of the help and cooperation of witnesses. Through the relentless efforts of Wilmington Police Sergeant Matt Hall, Cold Case Investigator Partlow and Special Agent Ronnie Hnat, we were finally able to give answers to the Flores family,” said DOJ homicide unit head and deputy attorney general Ipek Medford. “We need our community to help us piece together cases. This case is an example that we need witnesses to tell what happened and bring justice, and not just forensic evidence like TV shows might have the public believe. ”

“I appreciate the hard work of everyone in our Cold Case Unit, and all of the agencies we work alongside, for keeping this case alive for five years,” said Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to bring cases like this to closure for the families of homicide victims.”

Two men, Isaac LeCompte, 22, of New Castle, and 20-year-old Jyaire Smith of Georgetown, Maryland were indicted in a second case, in connection with the death of Ira Hopkins in July 2014. Hopkins and friends were celebrating his birthday outside of his home in the Village of Windhover Apartments on Sandburg Place in Newark, when LeCompte and Smith approached with guns and ordered them to the ground. The two fired several shots, killing Hopkins and injuring one of his friends. LeCompte and Smith each face two counts of first degree murder (felony murder and intentional murder), one count of attempted murder, seven counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy, and one count of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

“New Castle County Detectives have worked tirelessly on this case since this tragic incident occurred. From the initial response, the collection of evidence, conducting interviews and the process of preparing the case for the arrest and trial, every effort was made to ensure those responsible were brought to justice,” said Colonel Elmer Setting, Chief of the New Castle County Police Department. “Each of these cases is critically important and we are grateful for the on-going collaboration between the New Castle County Police Department and Delaware Attorney General’s office. If you commit murder in New Castle County, regardless of the length of time that has passed, our detectives and Cold Case investigators will remain relentless until they arrest those responsible for these heinous acts and hold them accountable for their actions,” Setting said.

In a third case, the man charged with stabbing Thomas Cottingham to death on Rodney Square in September 2015 was indicted on several charges. Calvin Hooker, 25, of Wilmington killed Cottingham, as Cottingham stepped in to protect a woman Hooker confronted along Market Street. Hooker was indicted for first degree murder, two counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of resisting arrest, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and aggravated menacing.

In a fourth case, Hakiem Anderson, 31, of Wilmington was indicted on charges of first degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited in the fourth case. Anderson shot and killed Markevis Clark in the 800 block of Vandever Avenue in Wilmington in August 2015, after a brief argument.

The fifth homicide case indicted on December 21st, is that of Benjamin Rauf, 26, of Westerlo, New York. Rauf was arrested in connection with the Auguest killing of Shazim Uppal, who was found dead after being shot multiple times while sitting in his parked car in Hockessin. Rauf was indicted on two counts of first degree murder (felony murder and intentional murder), possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and first degree robbery.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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