Despite a stunning drop in Washington, D.C., homicides, from 482 in 1991 to 108 last year, murder remains a stubborn crime to solve and prosecute. A Washington Post review of nearly 2,300 slayings between 2000 and 2011 found that fewer than a third have led to a conviction for murder or manslaughter, although the numbers have improved in the past few years. More than 1,000 cases remain unsolved.
Of 2,294 homicides, 30 percent have led to a conviction for murder or manslaughter. In 1993, the Post found that 25 percent of the 1,286 homicides between 1988 and 1990 led to such a conviction.The latest study shows that from 2000 through 2006, under Police Chief Charles Ramsey, the number rose to 29 percent for 1,544 homicides. The trend has improved for the 750 homicides under Chief Cathy Lanier to 35 percent between 2007 and 2009, and is likely to continue rising. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen says, “What you're measuring, to me, is more a reflection of, is the community coming forward and giving you enough information to make an arrest? If you never have enough information to even arrest somebody, you can't hold them accountable for those murders.”