PROOF: You Can Get Away With Murder

( – The sad fact is that in the United States of America, killers routinely get away with murder. The proof lies in a new report from NPR.

In summary, NPR reports that the number of unsolved murders across America is growing, adding to the anguish of grieving families and damaging the fragile trust between police and the public, particularly in communities of color most affected by gun violence.

Mark Legaspi, whose cousin and business partner Artgel Anabo Jr. was killed outside their restaurant in East Oakland, California, says he has heard nothing about the case, even though the family believes they know who the suspect is. This frustration is shared by countless families of murder victims whose cases remain unsolved.

The rate of solving or “clearing” murders has been declining for decades, reaching a historic low of slightly below 50% in 2020. In some big cities, like Chicago, the number of murder cases resulting in at least one arrest has dipped into the low to mid-30% range. According to Prof. Philip Cook, a public policy researcher, the U.S. now has one of the worst murder-solving rates in the industrialized world, with Germany consistently clearing over 90% of its murders.

Experts believe that this increase in unsolved murders is contributing to a cycle of mutual mistrust between the police and the public. Communities affected by gun violence may see the police as ineffective or indifferent and become less willing to cooperate, which in turn hampers future investigations and possibly leads to more killings.

Oakland, California, exemplifies this cycle, with an abnormally high per capita homicide rate and one of the lowest murder solve rates in the country, reaching just 36% last year. Contributing factors include detectives handling too many cases at once, an outdated case management system, and a reluctance among witnesses to cooperate with the police due to fear of retaliation or being labeled a “snitch.”

The Oakland Police Department’s ongoing struggles, such as remaining under federal oversight for two decades and having a detective recently arrested on felony charges of perjury and bribery, have further eroded public trust.

Criminologists note that some cities, like Chicago, are artificially boosting their clearance numbers through the “exceptional means” clause, which allows a murder to be considered cleared even if the suspect is dead, cannot be extradited, or if prosecutors refuse to press charges. A more accurate indicator of police effectiveness is the arrest rate per murder, which remains low in many cities.

Factors contributing to the decline in murder clearance rates include chronic police staffing and recruiting issues, more murders committed with firearms, and higher evidence and procedure standards for judges, prosecutors, and juries. Experts suggest investing more in homicide investigations, such as improving crime labs, training, DNA testing, and computer modeling systems, could help reverse this downward trend.

As unsolved murder cases continue to mount, communities like Oakland are left grappling with the consequences. Families, friends, and residents mourn the loss of their loved ones, often without any closure or justice, while the violence continues to plague their neighborhoods.