Violent crime, including homicide, increased sharply in the United States after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more disturbing is the fact that fewer murders are being solved overall. According to FBI data, the percentage of homicides resulting in an arrest, known as the clearance rate, has been declining for decades.
Now, about half of all murders in the U.S. go unsolved, compared to 30-40% in the 1960s. In some states like New Mexico, Ohio, and Michigan, the unsolved rate is as high as 60%. (See the states where the murder rate is rising.)
Experts say this increase in unsolved murders is partly because older clearance statistics may be unreliable. But over the past 40 years, firearms have been used more often in killings. (These are the states where people are buying the most guns.)
Whatever the cause for this increase in unsolved homicides, most are forgotten by all but the surviving family and friends. Some, however, remain in public memory for decades.
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of some of the most famous unsolved crimes – homicides and otherwise – in America. We drew information from the FBI, various media reports, and other sources, including regional publications. We focused on crimes that have gone unsolved for at least 15 years based on the most current information available. The list is by no means comprehensive and we used editorial discretion to determine which unsolved crimes most captivated the public’s interest and generated significant media coverage.
Whatever the reasons, most unsolved homicides are forgotten by all but the victim’s loved ones. Some remain in public memory for years though, like the still unsolved murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. in the 1990s. Other famous unsolved crimes include a daring art theft, a hijacking, and the infamous escape from Alcatraz which may or may not have succeeded.
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