In St. Louis, a Long Stretch of Unsolved Murders

Marshall Project examines the problem
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2024 1:15 PM CDT
In St. Louis, a Long Stretch of Unsolved Murders
Police work near the scene of a shooting in August 2020 in St. Louis.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

St. Louis has long been known for having one of the highest murder rates in the nation. An investigation by the Marshall Project reveals a troubling tangent to that: A surprising number of the city's killings over the last decade remain unsolved. The city had approximately 1,900 homicides from 2014 through 2023, of which more than 1,000 are still open cases, according to the joint investigation with St. Louis Public Radio and APM Reports. "A review of 20 years of data and records reveals some of the reasons why police failed to solve so many homicides, including shoddy detective work, lack of resources and an erosion of community trust," reads the story, which digs into the particulars of each of those factors.

The piece also calls attention to the racial disparity at play: Black people make up 44% of the city's population but account for 90% of the decade's murders. And while police managed to solve about two-thirds of the cases involving white victims, more than half of cases with Black victims remain uncleared. The story focuses on a seemingly motiveless triple-murder of three young women in 2017 in the Fairgound neighborhood—and the jarring stat of 40 unsolved killings over the last decade within a half-mile of their residence. The now-retired detective who was in charge of the case was eventually reprimanded internally for failing to make even rudimentary follow-ups. One silver lining: The story notes that solve rates improved in 2022 and 2023, the last two years of the decade studied. Read the full story. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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