Who Is Killing Whom in America?

By Dimond, Diane | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, February 2, 2014 | Go to article overview

Who Is Killing Whom in America?


Dimond, Diane, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


We have a fascination in America about murder. Serial killers, mass murders, thrill kills, the so-called "mission murderers" who think it's their duty to rid the world of certain groups like prostitutes, drug users or the homeless. That all those prime time TV shows, replete with mysterious murders and the resulting criminal trials are so popular speaks volumes.

But what is the reality? How many murders are there in America? Who are the victims and their killers? What parts of the country are most dangerous?

The FBI's latest figures tell us there were 14,168 killings in the U.S. in 2012. That's slightly higher than the rate in 2011. Unlike other crimes, such as burglary, robbery, rape and assault, which are historically under-reported by a surprisingly large margin, the murder rate is considered to be pretty accurate because it's awfully hard to hide a corpse.

Not surprisingly, the statistics show that murder is much more prevalent in major urban areas as opposed to suburban or rural areas.

After all the headlines about Chicago being on track to become the murder capital of the U.S., the top 10 deadliest cities may surprise you.

On the top of the 2012 list: Flint, Mich., which sees 64.9 murders for every 100,000 citizens. Detroit, Mich. is next with 54.6 murders for every 100,000 in population. New Orleans has 53.5 murders among every 100,000 citizens, St. Louis' rate drops considerably from that level -- to just 35.5 homicides per 100,000 in population. Baltimore has 35 murders for every 100,000 citizens and Birmingham, Ala., comes in at 33.7. Tied at No. 7 on the list was Newark, NJ, and Oakland, Calif., each reporting 33.1 homicides per 100,000. Rounding out the top 10 list: Baton Rouge, La., at 28.9; Cleveland, Ohio, at 24.6 and Memphis, Tenn., at 24.1.

In the book, Myths and Realities of Crime and Justice, by sociologists Steven Barkan and George Bryjak, the authors explain that 40 years ago, murders most often occurred between people who knew each other. In the mid-60s, detectives learned to assume that the victim was acquainted with the killer -- a friend, lover or relative. Back then, police had an astounding 91 percent arrest rate. In the '90s, arrests of suspected killers happened 65 percent of the time. Today, when so many people are murdered by total strangers, the number of arrests is just 33 percent in some urban neighborhoods.

So, who is killing whom, and who are the victims? About 65 percent of the time, males are murdering other males, but 22 percent of their targets are women. That's not to say women don't kill, too. Females murder men most often, but about 2.4 percent of all homicides are women killing other women.

The FBI's 2010 report reveals that black victims are killed by other blacks 90 percent of the time. White victims are killed by other whites 83. …

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