Unsolved murders continue to be a serious concern in Texas and across the country. In 2016, the national clearance rate for murders declined to 59.4 percent, the lowest rate since the FBI has tracked nationwide investigations. This rate measures the percentage of murders that are solved with an identification or arrest of a suspect. This means that over 40 percent of murders across the country — thousands of cases — are currently going unsolved.
Some advocates are seeking more support to police departments to keep cold cases open and launch new investigations in order to address unsolved crimes, especially murders. The issue has drawn new attention due to the large number of uncleared homicides in Chicago, the third-largest city in the country. In 2016, police in Chicago solved only 26 percent of the city’s murders. On one weekend in August 2018, over 70 people were shot and 12 people killed, but police made only one arrest in all of the crimes during that time.
There are a number of reasons why it can be difficult to solve murders. Gang violence can be a significant factor, and witnesses may be intimidated into remaining silent. In addition, there has often been a major decline in relations between communities struggling with violence and the police, especially if police in the area have been associated with brutality, racism or corruption.
Since the clearance rate is low in many cities, some investigators are more eager to seek any solution to an unsolved crime. This means that if people are under suspicion, arrested for or charged with a serious, violent crime, it is particularly important to hire a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help to protect a client from unjust police practices, civil rights violations or inappropriately obtained evidence.