Vanterpool said he had a “bad feeling” about Dixon’s intentions.
“He asked me about the stolen guns and what did we do with them,” Vanterpool recalled in an interview with The Washington Post. “That’s when I pulled the trigger.”
Vanterpool said he pulled a .357 magnum from his waistband, shot Dixon twice in the stomach and ran.
records show that they identified Vanterpool as the suspect in the case. But they neve
r arrested him. In fact, he said, they never even questioned him.
“I never spoke to any detectives,” Vanterpool said.
Still, they counted Dixon’s killing as a successfully closed case. Police decided that Vanterpool acted in self-defense, and they closed the file in April 2002 without an arrest, according to records.
“He meant to do me harm,” said Vanterpool, adding that Dixon pulled a gun on him. “That’s why it was self-defense.”
A Washington Post examination of nearly 2,300 homicides in the District between 2000 and 2011 found that police closed at least 189 cases without an arrest — 15 percent of the 1,288 total closures. Cases solved without an arrest are known as “administrative,” or “304.1s
after the section in the police general orders that refers to the procedure. They are counted the same as an arrest in closure statistics, which are the main measuring stick for homicide detectives and police chiefs.
Without an arrest or trial, though, families of victims can be left wondering what happened. Of 11 families of victims in administrative closure cases interviewed by The Post, only two said they had been told by police that the case had been closed. Even concerted efforts to find out details can be difficult. The Post found that case files turned over under public records requests often lacked information about the closing, sometimes because of departmental policy on confidential documents or secrecy rules governing federal grand juries.
Gregory Hodge Sr., whose son — his only child — was shot to death in 2002, said he was unaware that the case had been closed in 2003 without an arrest.
“I’ve heard absolutely nothing since it happened 10 years ago,” said Hodge, a 55-year-old former military police officer. “Nobody has called me, written me a letter or anything.”
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who became chief in 2007, said officers “are required to notify the next of kin of a case closure.” But she said no documentation indicating notification was found in Gregory Hodge Jr.’s case or three others pointed out by The Post that occurred between 2001 and 2003.
“We are now making attempts to locate and notify the next of kin,” she said.
In one of the four cases, the victim’s brother — a police officer — was notified during a meeting with a detective, she said. In another, the next of kin died in 2007, and Lanier said she does not know whether the deceased woman had been told that police closed the case. In the five remaining cases in which family members said they were not notified, Lanier disputed that there was no notification and offered to provide documentation to that effect after necessary redactions were made. But after five weeks, her department still had not provided the documentation or the names of the family members who were contacted.