The Washington Post Reveals Where American Homicides Go Unsolved

The Washington Post identified 50 of America’s largest cities where violent crime is widespread, but the vast majority of homicides go unsolved — without any arrests. These areas of decaying inner cities were identified by examining up to a decade of homicide arrest data from the nation’s largest cities. The report provides the most in-depth analysis of 52,000 unsolved homicides on a block by block basis where law enforcement agencies across the country have failed to catch killers.

According to the report, the overall homicide arrest rate in the 50 cities is 49 percent, but in some areas where violent crime is out of control, law enforcement agencies made arrests less than 33 percent of the time.

The Post points out the troubling low-arrest rate is occurring during a significant decline in violence across the country with “34 of the 50 cities have a lower homicide arrest rate now than a decade ago.”

In violent crime-plagued cities, such as decaying Baltimore and Chicago, law enforcement agencies solve very few homicides in entire neighborhoods “stretching for miles…with virtually no arrests,” said The Post.

Oddly enough, in places such as Atlanta, law enforcement personnel have a high-arrest rate in the city’s most violent neighborhoods.

Law enforcement agencies attribute the failure to solve homicides in these violent neighborhoods “on insufficient resources and poor relationships with residents, especially in areas that grapple with drug and gang activity where potential witnesses fear retaliation,” said The Post.

Families of those killed, and even some law enforcement personnel interviewed by The Post, overwhelmingly said the responsibility rests with law enforcement agencies who are not proactive in their communities. All agree that unsolved homicides increase violent crimes in low-arrest areas.

Detectives and criminal investigators said the probability of solving a homicide is low without community cooperation, which distrust of law enforcement agencies makes it virtually impossible to close cases.

“If these cases go unsolved, it has the potential to send the message to our community that we don’t care,” said Oakland police Capt. Roland Holmgren, who leads the department’s criminal investigation division. That city has two no-go zones where unsolved homicides are clustered.

The in-depth data analysis, which The Post claims is more accurate than the national homicide data published yearly by the FBI, allows researchers to view America’s unsolved homicides on a block by block basis via maps.

With little arrests and homicides soaring, there are 17 out of 50 cities from The Post’s list that are in serious trouble.

One happens to be Indianapolis, where only 64 of the 155 criminal homicides in 2017 resulted in an arrest. The city has four no-go zones with a high concentration of violent crime and unsolved murders.

The Post noted that community members in low-arrest areas fear retaliation from gangs if they communicate with law enforcement.

Indianapolis law enforcement officials told The Post that local gangs posted a video on social media titled “Ain’t no tellin,” filmed at a cemetery. In the video, gang members went full Hollywood acting out a scene in which a man was killed — likely because he spoke with detectives.

In Omaha, Nebraska, law enforcement made an arrest in 60 percent of homicides across the city; however, there is a 12-block no-go area where an arrest is made in just 15 percent of its homicides.

“It’s one of the best indicators of how well a police department and a community work together,” said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer. “If a police department can’t solve the greatest crime, the most egregious crime affecting society, what faith would you have in that police department?”

In Los Angeles, law enforcement officials told The Post that homicides have declined annually, and a little more than 50 percent of the 2,200 homicides since 2010 have led to an arrest.

The reoccurring theme with all of the 50 cities, is that troubled neighborhoods tend to have the most unsolved homicides.

Charles Wellford, a University of Maryland criminologist, said, ” some types of homicide — gang violence, drive-by shootings, stranger-on-stranger killings — can be especially challenging to solve.”

“But with the right resources and a little luck, almost any homicide can lead to an arrest,” Wellford said, adding, “Almost all of the variation in clearance can be attributed to the way in which a department approaches clearing homicide.”

Out of 52,179 homicides in 50 cities from 2011 to 2017, 51 percent did not result in an arrest. Here are some of the cities across the United States with the lowest arrest rates for homicides: 

Phoenix 

From 2011 to 2017, 45 percent of the 914 homicides in Phoenix resulted in an arrest, which means 55 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

Oakland, California 

From 2008 to 2017, 46 percent of the 947 homicides in Oakland resulted in an arrest, which means 54 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

New Orleans

From 2010 to 2017, 35 percent of the 1,434 homicides in New Orleans resulted in an arrest, which means 65 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

Miami

From 2007 to 2017, 40 percent of the 744 homicides in Miami resulted in an arrest, which means 60 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

Detroit 

From 2010 to 2017, 41 percent of the 2,519 homicides in Detroit resulted in an arrest, which means 59 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

Pittsburg 

From 2007 to 2017, 47 percent of the 631 homicides in Pittsburgh resulted in an arrest, which means 53 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

San Bernardino, California 

From 2012 to 2017, 38 percent of the 275 homicides in San Bernardino resulted in an arrest, which means 62 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

St. Louis 

From 2007 to 2017, 46 percent of the 1,677 homicides in St. Louis resulted in an arrest, which means 54 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

Stockton, California 

From 2007 to 2016, 40 percent of the 444 homicides in Stockton resulted in an arrest, which means 60 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

Baltimore

From 2007 to 2017, 35 percent of the 2,827 homicides in Baltimore resulted in an arrest, which means 65 percent of the homicides went unsolved. 

While The Post has undoubtedly delivered an in-depth, shocking reality to the unsolved homicides across many of America’s dying metropolises, it seems as Baltimore has tied New Orleans for number one in the nation for unsolved murders. With that being said, Baltimore law enforcement officials have desperately resorted to gunshot detection systems — strung out across many of these troubled neighborhoods, with the intent of catching the killers with technology. America is a mess.