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Back to Criminal Justice Index. The murder still hasn't been solved. April's family all describe her as celebratory and loving. And they miss her very much. Throughout the year , prostitution emerged again and again from the shadows of Santa Rosa Avenue into the pages of our local press. The year began with the January 17, discovery of the body of year-old April Lynn Misenhimer found strangled in the avenue's Redwood Motel.
It continued with an unprecedented number of law enforcement stings and sweeps for prostitution and a concurrent spree of very violent attacks against the women and girls on the avenue. The year ended in the last two weeks of December with three more knife attacks and a sexual assault against three women in the avenue area. Two of these women were prostitutes. The third may have been a prostitute, or as happened in at least one other attack during the year, she may have been mistaken for a prostitute.
Sonoma County law enforcement responded to the avenue with a dual strategy. On the one hand, in coordinated efforts by Santa Rosa Police and the Sheriff's Department both agencies have jurisdiction over the avenue police carried out an unusually high number of ten high profile sweeps of prostitutes and johns. On the other hand, violent crimes detectives from both departments worked to solve the ongoing spree of felony rapes, abductions, assaults with deadly weapons, attempted murder, child prostituting, child rape, and other violent crimes against the prostitutes, including the murder of April Lynn Misenhimer which today remains unsolved.
What may at first seem to be an all encompassing law enforcement approach, we believe is a contradictory set of strategies working at cross purposes. One effort undermines the other, and community safety is compromised rather than enhanced.
At year's end, scores of prostitutes and johns had been arrested for misdemeanor prostitution. The serious violent crimes on the avenue remain mostly unsolved or unresolved. And the prostitution goes on unabated. Early in the year, a detective expressed his frustration in solving the violent crimes. The problem of prostitutes' reluctance to talk and cooperate with police and prosecutors is no small matter. Contrary to the impression given by TV crime shows, solving violent crimes depends not so intensively on high tech forensics as it does on high quality police communication and cooperation with the people in the communities where the crimes occur.