Jordan Fischer, WRTV, December 18, 2017
For the third year in a row, Indianapolis will see a record-high number of murders.
The city has seen a seven-year streak of rising homicides, first breaking the record of 143 set in 1996 two years ago, when 144 people were murdered. In 2016, that record was again broken after 149 people were murdered in the city of Indianapolis.
Ahead of the record-setting murder – and amid criticism of the results of his crime-fighting strategy – Mayor Joe Hogsett held a press conference to announce he would ask the Indianapolis City-County Council for an additional $3 million to fight crime in the city.
The city’s homicide number proves particularly frustrating because 2017 – at least until October – showed all the signs of being the year to finally see a drop in murders.
The spring brought with it a 20-day homicide-free stretch, the first since 2015, between April and May.
The high point came on Sept. 25, when 2017 fell a full 15 criminal homicides behind the same date in 2016.
November proved to be the bloodiest month yet. Over 30 days, 25 people were murdered in Indianapolis – an average of one every 28.8 hours.
By Nov. 25 – just two months after 2017 fell to 15 murders below the previous year – the city’s fortunes had flipped. Whereas 2016, at that point, had seen 133 murders, 2017 had rocketed to 146. At that point 2017 was already the second-deadliest year in Indianapolis history, and just four murders away from a new record.
Although Indianapolis would see just three murders in the first half of December, it wouldn’t be enough to keep the city from again breaking its record.
Violence Against (and by) Teens Way Up
The arrest of 18-year-old Ka’Ron Bickham-Hurst and an unidentified 17-year-old juvenile suspect in the murder of Dr. Kevin Rodgers in November was just the latest in a staggering increase in violence involving young people this year.
In 2016, seven people age 19 or younger were charged with murder in Indianapolis. As of this writing, that number this year has more than doubled to 17.
On the other side of that equation, 17 murder victims have also been 19 or younger. The youngest was 13-year-old Matthew McGee. Another five victims 19 or younger have been killed in accidental shootings. Four have been killed in shootings later determined to be self-defense.
All of that comes on the heels of a 70-percent increase in encounters by IMPD with juveniles carrying firearms.
Violence Against Women Hits Record Levels
In 2016, Indianapolis set a new homicide record of 149 murders with 22 female victims. Before even setting the record this year, 31 women had already been killed.
Where police have released a motive, 53 percent of those murders have been described as domestic in nature. Those include the murders of 20-year-old Meredith Opel and 27-year-old Mallory Jackson, who were killed on the southeast side last month by Jackson’s estranged husband.
Drugs, Robberies & Arguments Driving Violence
Police have yet to release a suspected motive for more than 80 of this year’s homicides. But where they have, arguments, drugs and robberies are cited more than any other factor.
In the 65 murder cases where a motive has been released, IMPD has cited an argument as the underlying reason 32.3 percent of the time. Robbery ranks second at 24.6 percent. Drugs come in third at 18.5 percent. Domestic violence takes the fourth spot at 15.4 percent.
Most Murder Cases Remain Open
IMPD’s homicide clearance rate for 2017 currently sits around 35 percent. That number is significantly better for cases involving female victims, which have a solve-rate of more than 60 percent this year.