Special Report

The Town with the Highest Murder Rate in Every State

The U.S. murder rate is at its highest level in nearly two and half decades. A total of 21,570 murders were committed nationwide in 2020, up nearly 30% from the previous year — the largest annual increase on record. 

The rash of deadly violence came during a tumultuous year in American history. The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures and left millions of Americans out of work. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer rattled confidence in American law enforcement and sparked nationwide protests. Firearm sales soared, resulting in the proliferation of tens of millions of new guns. Here is a look at the states where gun sales are surging

Some experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in the rising homicide rate. While it may be years before the precise causal factors are identified, the effects are being felt in communities across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicide as a contributing factor in the historic 1.5-year decline in life expectancy in the U.S. last year — trailing only COVID-19 and accidental deaths, like drug overdoses, in significance. 

Currently, the national murder rate stands at 6.5 homicides for every 100,000 people. In many U.S. communities, however, murder rates are far higher than the national average. Using data from the FBI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the town with the most murders in each state. Towns are ranked on their murder rate — the number of reported murders for every 100,000 people in 2020. We defined towns based on population thresholds, at least 2,500 people and less than 25,000 people. In Hawaii, there are no eligible towns with available crime data.

Though each of the towns on this list ranks as having the highest murder rate in its respective state, homicide rates in these places vary considerably, from 4.3 murders per 100,000 people to 236 per 100,000. Still, in every town on this list, homicide rates exceed the comparable rate across the state as a whole.

Despite the rise in homicide nationwide, murder is by far the least common form of violent crime, accounting for less than 2% of all criminal violence. Still, in most of the towns on this list, the overall violent crime rate exceeds the comparable rate across the state as a whole.

Click here to see the town with the most murders in every state
Click here to see our detailed methodology