The Globe Takes Down Its Error-Strewn Homicide Database

After we pointed out dozens of corrections, the newspaper admits it’s “not responsible” to keep it online.

Two weeks ago, we reported that a 10-year-old had taken to Twitter to correct the Globe’s online homicide database, which the newspaper had relaunched on January 1. As I showed both here and in a series of posts to Twitter, the database was strewn with easily correctible errors and omissions, including the names, ages, and causes of death for many of the city’s homicide victims.

At the time, the Globe refused to respond directly, while providing a vague statement and an array of excuses on social media—and while, behind the scenes, attempting to update the database without publishing corrections.

On Tuesday, when Boston magazine contacted the newspaper after identifying dozens of additional corrections, the newspaper took the extraordinary step of removing the entire database from the web. “It’s not responsible for us to have it up if it’s not accurate,” admitted Globe Digital Advisor David Skok on Tuesday.

Today, where the homicide database once appeared, there is only this “Note to Readers”: “The homicide map featured at this location has been removed while we work to update and verify the details of some cases.”

Skok could not say for certain how long the database will be gone—or even that it would return at all. In the process of updating the listings, Skok said, editors will determine whether they can be maintained with sufficient accuracy, given the available resources. The Globe might also partner with a university or other outside group to maintain it. (Not that the Globe should need my help, but I’m happy to share the errors I’ve found, which are listed below.)

On a brighter note, 10-year-old Cecelia Faller’s mother tells me that the Globe has invited them in for lunch and a tour. Faller is the 5th grader who googled and tweeted missing victims’ names, leading the Globe to acknowledge the problem.

Shortly after Boston magazine reported on Faller’s corrections—and offered more of our own—the Globe updated the missing names. But even after that, the listings still contained numerous errors.

Some of those errors reflect the difficulty of maintaining an accurate listing of homicides in a city such as Boston. Take, for example, the news over the weekend that Ritcher J. Baez was arrested in New York, and charged with last year’s murder of 39-year-old Pippin Roe in Roxbury. Roe’s death had not previously been officially declared a homicide, and should now be added to the database.

There are other, smaller challenges, involving conflicting information. Many initial reports incorrectly gave the name of 8-year-old victim Janmarcos Peña’s as Jan Marcos. Even the official Boston Police Department homicide data contains typos that require double-checking.

But most of the errors in the Globe listings appear to stem from much more mundane mistakes, which should have been caught if the Globe subjected the listings to basic copy-editing, let alone standard Boston Globe journalistic practice. A 2010 murder is listed in 2014. An age of 31, instead of 81, is shown for victim described in the accompanying blurb as “elderly.” Weapons clearly identified by police and Globe articles are listed incorrectly.

To demonstrate the type of errors in the database, below are mistakes I’ve found in more than three dozen listings—nearly 10 percent of the total—containing errors, using official Boston Police Department data combined with other sources.

Shown are the listings as provided on the Globe site (date, name, age, and weapon; — indicates missing information), followed by corrected information.

1. 12/21/2014, Rafeal Guzman, —, knife

-name is Rafael Guzman

-age is 23

2. 11/21/14, Winzinsky Soto, 27, gun

-name is Winzisky Soto

-date is 11/21/10

3. 11/8/14, Audilia DaVeiga, 33, gun

-weapon is trauma

4. 11/1/14, Shervonne Tucker, —, gun

-age is 35

5. 9/21/14, George Sanchez,  —, knife

-age is 42

6. 7/31/14, Emmanuel Jeudi, 27, knife

-age is 29

7. —, —, —, —

-missing victim: 7/13/14, Pippin Roe, 39

8. 5/8/14, Gilson Semedo, 28, gun

-age is 27

9. 3/1/14, Augusta Mims, 21, knife

-age is 20

10. 2/7/14, Jan Marcos Pena, 9, gun

-name is Janmarcos Peña

11. 1/24/14, Trevain Keene, 22, gun

-age is 21

12. 9/7/2013, Jody Hargrove, 43, gun

-age is 42

13. —, —, —, —

-missing victim: 8/1/2013, Sherry Bradley, 32, trauma

14. 6/1/2013, Brianna Bigby, 22, gun

-name is Briana Bigby

15. 5/3/2013, Misbam Wiggins, 23, gun

-name is Mibsam Wiggins

16. —, —, —, —

-missing victim: 12/15/2012, Franky Joseph, 30, motor vehicle

17. 9/21/2012, Dejalise Moraies, 0, other

-name is Dejalise Morales

18. 7/31/2012, Mei Rong Kjang, 31, other

-name is Mei Rong Kuang

-age is 81

19. 5/4/2012, John J. Barrientos, 53, blunt force trauma

-name is Jhon J. Barrientos

20. 4/18/2012, Demitri Jones, 20, gun

-name is Dametri Jones

21. 2/21/2012, Mary Miller, 70, knife

-age is 71

22. 2/19/2012, Mohammed Hassan, 21, gun

-name is Mohamed Hassan

23. 12/3/2011, Gail Miles, 60, gun

-weapon is trauma

24. 11/14/2011, Stephanie Emile, 21, knife

-weapon is gun

25. 11/14/2011, Judith Emile, 24, knife

-weapon is gun

26. 11/12/2011, Charles Webb, 40, knife

-weapon is gun

27. 10/24/2011, Durrell Leary, 20, knife

-weapon is gun

28. 9/21/2011, Ediralva Da Silva, 28, blunt force trauma

-name is Edinalva Da Silva

29. 1/4/2011, Nicholas Bufford, 21, gun

-age is 31

30. 11/21/2010, Ariel Dume, 20, gun

-weapon is knife

31. 8/17/2010, Terrance Small, 39, gun

-name is Terence Small

32. 4/11/2010 Ta’Dai McNeil 0 knife

-name is Ta’dai Catron-McNeil

-weapon is blunt force trauma

33. 11/8/2009, Gregory Phillips, 24, unknown

-weapon is knife

34. 7/27/2009, Sylvester Brunson, 49, unknown

-weapon is knife

35. 5/3/2009, John Paul Torres, 20, knife

-age is 21

36. 10/25/2008, Garibaldis Pena, 27, gun

-name is Garivaldis Peña

37. 9/5/2008, Terry L. Keiti, 34, knife

-name is Terry Keitt

38. 8/25/2008, Troy West, 40, knife

-age is 42