The number of homicides in Winnipeg dropped considerably in 2012 compared to the record-breaking toll the year before.
There have been 30 homicides recorded by Winnipeg police for the year, down 25 per cent from the 41 in 2011.
Does that make Winnipeg a less-violent city than in 2011, when Statistics Canada dubbed it the murder and general violent-crime capital of the country?
University of Manitoba criminologist Frank Cormier said the drop in homicides likely won't be enough for Winnipeg to shake those dubious titles.
"You have to be really careful when looking at such small numbers," Cormier said. "Statistically, the change isn't significant."
He said murder numbers in Canada seem to be the same every year, regardless of the number in any city, including Winnipeg. Most homicides occur between people who know each other -- spouse or former spouse, another family member, a so-called friend or acquaintance.
Most killings were the result of stabbings or beatings. The number of shooting deaths each year is essentially the same, small compared to the overall number.
In Winnipeg, the number of homicides in the last four years has gone up and down, from 22 in 2010 to 41 the following year, with 30 homicides in the years before and after.
The annual fluctuations tend to reflect how the killings are done, Cormier said -- mostly the result of stabbings and beatings.
"The line between assault with a weapon and murder, that line is very close. These are generally people under the influence of alcohol or drugs and they get into a fight. These aren't highly skilled, knife-wielding people.
"You can stab someone somewhere and it's not a big deal, and you can stab someone a little bit farther over and then they're dead."
There were several dramatic homicides this year that dominated headlines:
-- Feb. 20: Body parts found in a Dumpster in the lane at Donald Street and York Avenue were identified as those of Darren Robert Monias, 42, the city's fifth homicide of 2012. Police charged Emery Miles McLeod, 38, Monias's roommate. There was speculation drugs were involved and unconfirmed reports the body had been chopped up into several pieces and spread out over the city.
-- March 31: The body of Carolyn Marie Sinclair, 25, was found near a Dumpster on Notre Dame Avenue near Toronto Street. It's believed she was killed at the end of December 2011. On June 26, the body of Lorna Blacksmith was found in another Dumpster in the West End. Police believe Blacksmith was the last victim of alleged serial killer Shawn Lamb, 52, who would be charged with the deaths of Sinclair and Tanya Jane Nepinak, believed killed in September 2011. Nepinak's body is believed buried somewhere in the Brady Road landfill.
-- June 20: Kaila Latoya Tran, 26, was attacked by a knife-wielding man in the parking lot of her building on Clayton Drive while leaving for work. Her screams alerted neighbours, who tried to help. Police later charged Tran's boyfriend, Drake David Moslenko, 27, with hiring Treyvonne Anthony Warner Willis, 20, to do the killing.
-- Sept. 4: Sixteen-year-old Paris Bruce is beaten by six men on the sidewalk in the 300 block of Aberdeen Avenue about 8 a.m. He died three days later, becoming the city's 21st homicide of 2012. The accused are members of a rival street gang and it's believed the killing was part of the war to control the sale of illegal drugs in Winnipeg.
-- Sept. 27: Jeffrey Lau is killed in a targeted shooting while he sat with another man at the Salisbury House at Pembina Highway and Stafford Street. The restaurant was shot up and the shooter walked away, leaving the murder weapon and clothes a few blocks away. Lau's friend, Garrick Nickel, 22, was wounded in the attack. Speculation is Lau's death, No. 22 of the year, is also part of the gang war over the city's drug trade. No one has been charged.
Cormier said although the number of city police officers rises every year, the number of homicides fluctuates, suggesting policing has little impact on the homicide figures.
"The vast majority (of homicides) occur in a private residence. You can have cops on every street corner and it won't stop the interpersonal (homicides), that vast majority that happen in someone's home."
How city's killings happened
Year 2012 2011 20102009
Total homicides304122 30