(UnitedVoice.com) – A brutal quadruple murder shocked the country just 11 days before Thanksgiving last year. Four Idaho college students were killed in off-campus housing. Someone broke into the house in the early hours of November 13 and stabbed Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, and Madison Mogen to death.
For over a month, the community and families feared the police wouldn’t catch the killer. That all ended when law enforcement took 28-year-old Brian Kohberger into custody and charged him with four counts of murder. However, not every family received the news that their loved one’s alleged killer was in custody.
Across the country, police departments are struggling to solve homicides in their cities. The Murder Accountability Report (MAR), which uses FBI data, revealed the clearance rate for killings in 2020 was just 54.4% across the country.
The clearance rate has decreased significantly since 1965, when it was 91%. As it has fallen, the number of murders has increased. For instance, in 1965, there were an estimated 9,960 homicides in the United States. In 2020, that number was a whopping 21,570. In the 20-year period from 1999 to 2019, the clearance rate went from 69% to 61.4%.
MAR Founder Thomas Hargrove told The Guardian the United States is on the cusp of “ being the first developed nation where the majority of homicides go uncleared.”
Why Is the Murder Clearance Rate So Low?
Joe Murray, a homicide detective in Philadelphia, told MAR the number of murders is making it difficult for detectives to solve cases. There were 499 homicides in 2020, a 41% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, the murder clearance rate in 2020 was just 42%.
Derek Thompson, an investigative reporter at The Atlantic, dug into the issues facing police departments nationwide. Crime analyst Jeff Asher told him there hasn’t been a change in the way the data is reported, meaning it’s not a statistical error.
However, the data from the 1960s and 1970s was completely inaccurate, Asher explained. He said that while police departments across the nation reported 90% to 100% of their murders were solved, the real percentages probably weren’t anywhere close to that. In other words, comparing the 2020 rate to the 1960s isn’t fair.
Another factor was the Supreme Court ruling in the case Miranda v. Arizona, which gave suspects more rights. Suspects began incriminating themselves less often. The number of killings committed with guns is also one of the problems impacting the clearance rate. That’s because those are crimes committed by someone who is father away, and the crimes usually have less DNA and other physical evidence.
It’s also important to remember that while the total average murder rate hovers around 50%, it’s going to vary by locality. Americans who are worried should look at the city where they live.
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