Nearly half of US homicides go unsolved as cases rise

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

Nearly half of all homicide cases in the United States are now going unsolved as open cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, according to an investigation by CBS News.

The investigation revealed that the murder clearance rate published by the FBI — which highlights the percentage of homicide cases solved by authorities each year — has reportedly dropped to its lowest point for over 50 years to what is essentially a “50-50 coin flip,” according to homicide analyst Thomas Hargrove.

“It’s never been this bad. During the last seven months of 2020, most murders went unsolved. That’s never happened before in America,” he told the U.S. broadcaster.

According to the CBS report, murder rates in almost every major U.S. city have risen considerably since the start of the coronavirus pandemic with the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report published in September last year revealing an 29 percent increase in murders nationwide, the greatest percentage of which involved guns. Others point out that the murder rates dramatically increased following Black Lives Matter riots following George Floyd’s death at the hand’s of a police officer and the ensuing “defund the police” movement.

An in-depth analysis of the concerning data showed that in 2020, homicide cases involving White victims were 30 percent and 50 percent more likely to be solved than cases with a Hispanic or Black victim respectively. However, this discrepancy may be partly explained by the fact that in many of the most high-crime Black neighborhoods, there is a culture of not speaking to the police, also known as “snitching,” even involving murder cases. FBI statistics from 2019 show that despite Blacks making up approximately 12 percent of the population, they account for 55.6 percent of all suspects in homicide cases.

FBI data from 2019 “Crime in the United States”

The 29.4 percent rise in homicide and manslaughter cases in the United States from 2019 to 2020 was the largest year-on-year increase since the tracking of violent crime by the federal government began in the 1960s.

CBS analysis of the FBI data showed that in Minneapolis, authorities had a murder clearance rate of 53 percent in 2020, with 221 solved cases out of 418 homicides.

Similarly, Los Angeles saw a 36 percent hike in homicides in 2020 with 351 cases and a clearance rate of 55 percent.

In Chicago, however, a Freedom Of Information Act request by CBS made harrowing reading for the Chicago Police Department with dating showing that in 2020 the department’s clearance rate was just 44 percent, and when taking into account “exceptionally” cleared cases whereby authorities close a case without arresting or charging a suspect, that clearance rate which resulted in a conviction dropped to just 24 percent.

“When 70 percent of homicides don’t lead to an arrest, that’s a critical mass of survivors of homicide victims that are never going to experience the justice that they deserve,” Arthur Lurigio, a criminal justice lecturer at Loyola University Chicago told the broadcaster.

“So, they bury their child and have to live with it for the rest of their lives, feeling that there’s been no closure on the matter.”

Share This Article