As Clearance Rates Fall, 211,000 U.S. Homicides Since 1980 Remain Unsolved


More than 211,000 U.S. homicides committed since 1980 remain unsolved, a body count greater than the population of Des Moines, Ia., Scripps News reports. Homicides are less likely to be solved today than they were 40 years ago. Police fail to make an arrest in more than a third of murders, resulting in an ever-increasing accumulation of cold cases. “We are just starting to address the cold case issue,” said Mike Corrado, president of the International Homicide Investigators Association. “At our last national convention last year, we had a two-day breakout just on cold cases. We'll be doing that again next year.”

Corrado is a homicide investigator in Atlantic City, N.J., which has more than 200 unsolved homicides, including the serial killings of four women found in 2006 in a drainage ditch near the casino district. The rates at which homicides are cleared, meaning someone was arrested and sent to court for trial, have declined alarmingly. The FBI estimates that the homicide clearance rate in 2012 was only 64 percent, down from 90 percent in 1965. In many places, it has become statistically unlikely that a murder will be solved. The Detroit Police Department reported making arrests in only 34 of its 386 homicides in 2012, which is a solution rate of only 9 percent. New Orleans reported solving only 15 percent of its 193 killings that year.

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