November 24, 2017 — Are there serial killers out there?

Well, yes, and maybe more than we know. Thomas K. Hargrove, founder and chairman of the Murder Accountability Project, is the subject of a fascinating story in last week’s New Yorker Magazine. The story, by Alec Wilkinson, makes the case that by using vast amounts of data, carefully gathered and skillfully analyzed, that Hargrove and his associates can make the case for identifying areas where serial killers have been at work–some for decades. Hargrove has said there may be many more than we realized. Further, the data from MAP often can find links among crimes and clusters of crimes.

MAP also keeps updated statistics on murders. The 2016 numbers are here. So, murders are up and the percentage of solved complaints is at an all-time low. Worst major city in the nation? Detroit at 14 percent. Wow! Of course, the site notes, Chicago does NOT report, even though it had the highest number of murders: 765. That’s more than two a day.

While Detroit led the way in terms of the nation’s lack of clearances, the whole of Michigan didn’t fare all that well: 597 homicides, of which only 188 were cleared. That’s a 31.49 percent rate. So if you commit murder in Michigan you have more than a two-thirds chance of getting away with it. Nationwide, the clearance is 55.54 percent.

I’m thinking we could do better. How? It’s simple: people have to speak up and tell what they know. And then police need to listen and act. Certainly there are cases of departments not wanting to hear from some number cruncher…The New Yorker article talks of at least one specific agency–Lake County, Indiana–where Hargroves’ identification of serial killer activity went unwelcomed and unheeded. But the officers I know very definitely WANT to hear and are ready and willing to act on it. But it takes somebody who will not buy into the “Snitches get Stiches” mentality. Courage? Yeah. And I believe people have more of it than they may know.


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