America’s 25 Murder Capitals

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin 3
Source: Thinkstock

10. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> Murder rate: 24.2 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 145
> Violent crime rate: 1,596.1 per 100,000
> Population: 600,400

Milwaukee’s 2015 murder rate was the 10th highest in the nation and the third highest in the Midwest, trailing only Detroit and St. Louis. The incidence of homicide in the city spiked 70.6% from half a decade ago, one of the sharper increases of any U.S. city.

Arguments and fights were the most common motives behind murders in Milwaukee last year, followed closely by robberies. Robberies are more common in financially distressed areas, and in Milwaukee, 29.4% of the population live in poverty, nearly double the national rate. Last year, there were 624 robberies in Milwaukee for every 100,000 residents, the third highest rate of any U.S. city.

Lettuce Fields in Salinas Valley, California
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9. Salinas, California
> Murder rate: 25.3 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 40
> Violent crime rate: 694.1 per 100,000
> Population: 158,185

The murder rate in Salinas hit a three-decade high last year. The 40 murders in the city in 2015 represented a 166.7% increase from the previous year, one of the largest homicide spikes in the country. The increase came even as the number of reported nonviolent property crimes dropped by 20.7%.

While, as always, gang violence was behind many of the city’s murders, local officials blamed the sharp spike in murders on an increase in drug-related violence and domestic disputes.

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Hartford, Connecticut 2
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8. Hartford, Connecticut
> Murder rate: 25.7 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 32
> Violent crime rate: 1,140.9 per 100,000
> Population: 124,553

Although the relationship is complicated, it appears that low income, economically depressed areas are more prone to crime. Hartford’s unemployment rate is a near nation-leading 10.4%, and more than one in three Hartford residents live in poverty. At the same time, the city has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. With 32 murders and fewer than 125,000 residents, Hartford had a higher murder rate than all but seven other U.S. cities last year.

Night time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
> Murder rate: 26.2 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 60
> Violent crime rate: 874.8 per 100,000
> Population: 228,727

There were 26 murders in Baton Rouge last year for every 100,000 residents, more than in all but half a dozen other cities. The 60 homicides in the city last year represents a 13.2% increase from the year before. City officials blame the spike on increased violence associated with drug trafficking. It is perhaps no coincidence that the city reported a record number of fatal heroin overdoses in 2015.

As in many other U.S. cities, the majority of homicides in Baton Rouge last year involved firearms. Gun violence continues to be a scourge on the Louisiana capital. On July 17, 2016, a former Marine shot and killed three Baton Rouge police officers with an AR-15 assault rifle.

Jackson, Mississippi
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6. Jackson, Mississippi
> Murder rate: 31.1 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 53
> Violent crime rate: 921.4 per 100,000
> Population: 170,508

Overall, the incidence of crime went down in Jackson, Mississippi in 2015. The city reported a 17.0% drop in property crime and a 1.4% decrease in violent crime. Among all violent crimes, the number of murders in the city declined most dramatically in 2015 — by 13.1% from 2014.

This decline in deadly violence, however, appears to have been short lived. The city logged its 50th murder case in mid-September this year, meaning 2016 will be far deadlier than 2015.