Murder in America
The Wall Street Journal takes FBI data from 2000 to 2010 to analyze the who, what, where, why, how and when murders take place across America.
All 165,068 in the decade analyzed.
The interactive they’ve created lets users sort and explore “why” a murder occurred (eg., Lover’s Triangle, Gang Killing and a large bucket of “Other”), who was killed and by whom (by race, sex and relationship), what weapon was used (eg., gun, knife, blunt object, etc.), when murders occurred (by year) and where they occurred (by state).
Needless to say, guns top the weapons category. While unlikely, getting pushed or thrown out a window has occurred 35 times.
Most often the relationship between the victim and killer is unknown (in over 70,000 cases). How or why this doesn’t become known goes unexplained but acquaintances accounted for over 27,000 murders, strangers for over 25,000.
In the good to know but it goes against our folk history category: the least likely to commit murder are stepmothers with 57 killings attributed to them in the decade analyzed.
The WSJ notes in their methodology that the data they’re working with has many holes in it. For example:
The FBI collects this data from the states, except for Florida. Florida doesn’t use the FBI’s guidelines when reporting additional information about homicides. The FBI data don’t capture all homicides. The states’ reporting is voluntary, and the country’s thousands of police agencies aren’t consistent in how they report. Some states, including New York, reported no justifiable homicides at all for some years. In recording the circumstances of a murder, the information recorded in the FBI data may capture only the relationship of the killer to one of the victims — but not other victims — in a given situation. Because of the unlimited number of scenarios in which a homicide can occur, the coding used in the FBI database may not explain the full set of circumstances involved.
That said, an interesting data set and interactive but view it as a big picture account of murder in America.
Image: Detail, Murder in America, by the Wall Street Journal.