News reports based on FBI statistics show that somewhere between 35%-40% of homicides in the US go unsolved in the US today. Uniform Crime Reporting data, available at the state level (excluding Florida), show that right at one-third of homicide offenders remain racially unidentifiable. These unidentified killers are the ones who haven’t been caught, which is why law enforcement is uncertain of their racial compositions.
This means we have access to rates of unsolved murders at the state level staring us in the face. Parenthetically, there are presumably a small number of homicides for which a perpetrator’s race is reported even though he is never positively identified, which would explain why the UCR data on the racially unidentifiable comes in at 33% while the FBI reports an unsolved rate in the 35%-40% range. Still, the following estimates must be pretty damn close to the real thing.
The following table ranks states (with the exclusion of Florida for which no data are available) by their rates of unsolved murders. It’s like golf here–the higher a state’s percentage, the worse it’s doing:
|1. District of Columbia||56.1%|
|4. New York||44.0%|
|7. Rhode Island||42.0%|
|8. New Jersey||41.8%|
|22. North Carolina||25.5%|
|24. New Mexico||24.5%|
|37. New Hampshire||15.8%|
|41. West Virginia||12.1%|
|42. South Carolina||10.6%|
|45. South Dakota||9.2%|
|48. North Dakota||4.5%|
An accompanying visualization is available here.
I wouldn’t fault someone for imagining that rural murders must be the easiest ones to get away with. If I leave my house and head west, it’s 600 miles of sparsely populated farmland and prairie from here to Denver. How would anyone find a body buried under the great blue sky out there in the middle of nowhere? Yet rural states dominate the bottom of the list, while DC, by far the most urban ‘state’ listed, has the inglorious distinction of being the worst of the worst when it comes to positively identifying killers. This article on the subject of unsolved homicides from the Scripps Howard News Service gives an indication as to why. It requires a little reading between the lines, of course:
Despite dramatic improvements in DNA analysis and forensic science, police fail to make an arrest in more than one-third of all homicides. National clearance rates for murder and manslaughter have fallen from about 90 percent in the 1960s to below 65 percent in recent years.
The majority of homicides now go unsolved at dozens of big-city police departments, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of crime records provided by the FBI.
Experts say that homicides are tougher to solve now because crimes of passion, where assailants are easier to identify, have been replaced by drug- and gang-related killings. Many police chiefs — especially in areas with rising numbers of unsolved crimes — blame a lack of witness cooperation.
Parenthetically, follow AE on twitter @AudaciousEpigon.
++Addition++A sarcastic Steve Sailer comments.