What true crime buffs already know
Let’s review, class. According to a 2014 article, serial killings account for no more than 1 percent of US murders. Since there are approximately 15,000 murders annually, that leaves the amount of serial murders at about 150 per year. It also mentions the FBI believes there are between 25-50 serial killers operating in the US at any given time. Not exactly news, right?
With articles floating around with titles like “Are American serial killers a dying breed?” and “The Decline in Serial Killers“, it’s clear that the consensus is that serial murder is not as common as it used to be.
Author Peter Vronsky, an investigative historian, is quoted in a Guardian article as saying that “it appears that we’re arresting and apprehending less serial killers, and when we do apprehend them they have a much smaller victim list, per killer. So yes, there seems to be a decline in American serial killing. Either there are less serial killers or we have gotten better at catching them earlier.”
Ok, great. I would love for this to be true.
But could the FBI be wrong?
I was listening to episode 9 of Jensen & Holes’ “The Murder Squad” podcast (which has become a new favorite of mine), and they were discussing the possibility of an active serial killer in Chicago, Illinois. Their guest from The Murder Accountability Project, founder Thomas Hargrove, challenges the commonly held belief that only 1% of all murders are committed by serial killers.
Hargrove’s major argument is that serial rape accounts for more than 1% of all rapes, so serial murder must account for more than 1% of all murders. He cites a study conducted in Cleveland, Ohio in which authorities tested all the recent rape kits from sexual assault victims. The shocking thing they found? More than 13% of all those rapes was committed by serial offenders. That definitely begs the question: how much more common is serial murder than believed?
The Murder Accountability Project published an article in March of 2019 noting that half of all Native American homicides are not reported to the FBI. Now this is not to say they are not reported to local or state authorities, but for whatever reason, they are not being reported to federal authorities. If the FBI is missing a total of 2,406 murders in their total of 15,000 homicides being committed each year, what else are they missing?
Your chances of being a serial killer victim, according to the FBI, are pretty slim. I’m not saying you should be scared. What I am saying is that there are educated people and organizations who believe we are vastly underestimating the currently held belief that serial murder accounts for only 1% of all homicides.
As someone who loves facts and has done a whole lot of reading on serial killers, I found it interesting.