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All Things Murder and Mayhem

Guest Author: Janet McClellan

Serial murder, sexual homicide, sexualized homicide/murder, serial killing and serial murderers did not vanish after 9-11 but they were taken off the front pages of the media. The murders occur, serial murder still occur, however, they go unsolved like the majority of homicides in the U.S.

They are getting away with murder, literally.

In the 1980s when the FBI first stated that approximately 35 to 100 serial killers operating in the U.S. at any one time and that they believed that serial murderers may be responsible for approximately 200 to 300 murders every year. However, even that rate only accounts for roughly 2% of the annual U.S. homicide rate. However, that figure is misleading as every year 6,000+ homicides go unsolved. Six thousand unsolved homicides represent roughly 33% of the average annual homicide rate of 18,000 as recorded from 1996 to 2018. Moreover, in those cases where the offender has not been identified and the victim was subjected to violent sexual assault, the specter of lust murder and violent sexualized homicide haunts.

FILE – This 1978 file photo shows serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Cook County Sheriff Sheriff Tom Dart plans to provide an update on a years long effort to identify unnamed victims of Gacy Wednesday, July 19, 2017 in Chicago. Dart will discuss the investigation that he launched in 2011. His office exhumed the skeletal remains of eight of at least 33 young men Gacy stabbed or strangled in the 1970s. (AP Photo/File)

Since 1980 the accumulated unsolved homicides in the US is over 210,000 and those are the offenses we know about. Known serial killers are responsible, on average, for six (6) victims.

Follow the math: If the average number of serial killers in US each year is 65 and each are responsible for 6 a year and its been 38 years since 1980 then an additional 14,000 unknown victims of serial murder may have occurred.

“Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year.”

Fortunately, many missing children and adults are quickly found, alive and well. However, tens of thousands of individuals remain missing for more than one year – what many agencies consider “cold cases”. It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remain unidentified …” (

Historical and contemporary researchers over the past thirty years have linked the decrease in the solve rates of homicide in the U.S. to an increase in recidivist perpetrators and the presence of structural and organizational bias against lower socio-economic groups, race, and victim ethnicity. The research identifies three factors associated with the decline in homicide solvability rates of homicide investigation.

  1. A change in the nature of homicide, e.g., stranger (recreational and/or lust murderers) vs. relationship murders
  2. The reduction in police investigative effectiveness
  3. An increase in recidivist perpetrators, in other words, serial killers/murderers

Serial murder did not go away, did not slow down, and did not stop. What has happened since 2001 is that, as a nation, our attention and funding for law enforcement efforts regarding offenses committed in our communities has been diverted away from traditional crime and offenses to terrorism, terrorists, borders, and immigration politics. Diversions of attention, policies, and funding have seen an increase in the unsolved homicide rate in the US since 2001. This blog offers to re-focus the understanding of an investigation into violent homicides and in particular serial homicide.

Read more by Janet McClellan: A Study of African American Serial Killers, by Janet McClellan, Ph.D. at Barnes & Noble ISBN 9781987015003 (paperback) ) and e-book (2940161249994). 

Samuel Little provides details for 90 unsolved murders.

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