Last year, just 11 days before Thanksgiving, a terrible quadruple murder shook the country. Four college students from Idaho were slain in off-campus accommodation. In the early hours of November 13, someone broke into the house and stabbed Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, and Madison Mogen to death.
For more than a month, the neighborhood and families worried that the police would fail to apprehend the murderer. All of this came to a stop when authorities apprehended Brian Kohberger, 28, and charged him with four charges of murder. Nevertheless, not every family was informed that their loved one’s alleged killer had been apprehended.
Police departments around the country are struggling to solve homicides in their communities. According to the Murder Accountability Report (MAR), which is based on FBI statistics, the clearance rate for killings in 2020 was only 54.4% across the country.
From 1965, when it reached 91%, the clearance rate has dropped dramatically. As it has declined, so has the number of killings. In 1965, for example, there were an estimated 9,960 killings in the United States. By 2020, that figure had risen to a stunning 21,570. Between 1999 and 2019, the clearance rate dropped from 69% to 61.4%.
According to MAR Founder Thomas Hargrove, the United States is on the verge of becoming “the first developed nation where the majority of homicides go unsolved.”
Why Is There Such a Low Murder Clearance Rate?
According to Joe Murray, a homicide investigator in Philadelphia, the high number of murders makes it difficult for police to solve cases. In 2020, there were 499 homicides, a 41% increase over 2019. Meanwhile, in 2020, the murder clearance rate was only 42%.
Derek Thompson, an investigative reporter for The Atlantic, investigated the problems confronting police agencies around the country. According to crime analyst Jeff Asher, there has been no change in the manner the data is provided, indicating that it is not a statistical error.
However, Asher revealed that the data from the 1960s and 1970s was utterly wrong. He claimed that while police agencies around the country reported that 90% to 100% of their killings were solved, the true numbers were most likely much lower. To put it another way, comparing the 2020 rate to the 1960s is unfair.
Another factor was the Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which increased suspects’ rights. Suspects began to incriminate themselves less frequently. One of the issues affecting the clearance rate is the amount of gun-related killings. Because those are crimes committed by someone who is father away, there is usually less DNA and other physical evidence.
It’s also vital to realize that, while the overall average murder rate is about 50%, it varies by region. Americans who are concerned should look to their own city.