Is murder on the rise in Missouri?

“Gateway_Arch” by liimus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Missouri is known for the Ozarks, the St. Louis Arch and murder? SafeWise scoured FBI data to discover that over a five-year average from 2013-2017, Missouri is ranked third in states with the highest murder rates.

Louisiana ranked first with 11.1 murders per 100,000 people, Mississippi ranked second at 8.0 murders per 100,000 people and Missouri ranked third at 7.9 murders per 100,000 people. Over this same time period, the U.S. average was 4.9 homicides per 100,000 people. 

Missouri saw an increase in murders by 6.1 percent from 6.1 murders per 100,000 people in 2013 to 9.8 murders per 100,000 people in 2017.

These numbers might seem high, but compared to other countries, the U.S. and Missouri averages rank low. For example, SafeWise reports that Honduras has a five-year average of 74.6 murders per 100,000 people.

Statista showed a different perspective than SafeWise. In 2018, Statista saw that FBI data ranked Missouri eighth with a total of 607 murders that year. California ranked first with 1,739 murders. Statista also looked at FBI data and found that murders in the United States have dropped significantly from 1991. A chart shows that the number of reported murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases in the United States decreased from 24,700 in 1991 to 16,214 in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, certain cities in Missouri, like Kansas City and St. Louis, have higher murder rates than others.

City Rating showed that although Kansas City’s total violent crime rate was higher than Missouri’s by 218.59 percent, only 129 murder and manslaughter incidents were reported in 2016. The website predicted that that number would fall to 105 reported murder incidents in 2019. However, a KMBC news report stated that the current murder count in Kansas City reached 121 as of Oct. 18.

St. Louis had 188 reported murder and manslaughter incidents in 2016 according to City Rating. The website also estimated that the number would drop to 175 reported murders in 2019.

In contrast, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article shows a map that is updated after every reported murder. As of Oct. 20, there have been just over 270 murders this year in St. Louis, and most of them were due to firearms. Additionally, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a map for past years. The 2016 map shows that over 300 murder incidents occurred that year, which is substantially more than what City Rating shows.

On Oct. 18, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson met in Springfield with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to discuss the recent violence in their cities. A point of agreement between them all was that gun violence was the main cause.

After the meeting, Lucas declared, referencing the problem, “This is an epidemic.” He went on to add that they are “working on things like witness protection programs and how we adequately fund them. Making sure we are really trying to build mental health resources,” according to KSHB Kansas City.

One organization that is trying to reduce these numbers is the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission (KCMCC). They developed Crime Stoppers as a way for people to give anonymous tips and have a chance of receiving reward money. The caller is connected with someone in the KCMCC organization, not the police, who cannot see the caller’s ID nor will ask any questions about who the caller is. However, the caller is given a number in case they are able to collect a reward for their information. Anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS or by using the P3 TIPS app.

The KCMCC has also developed a rehabilitation program called Second Chance for those who are stuck in the cycle of crime. The program is able to help with housing, education, employment and personal needs. More information can be found here.

Other organizations that are working to reduce violence include KC Common Good and Keeping Communities on Guard (KCOG). Some members of KCOG are even former gang members who want to help others escape the daily violence they experienced themselves.

The organization AdHoc Group Against Violence Kansas City helps those whose lives have been impacted by murder and provides an intervention program for those recently released from the criminal system.


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