The Chicago Police Departmentand the FBI are now investigating 51 unsolved murders over the past two decades to determine whether they are the work of one or more serial killers.The murders share a number of characteristics. They’re all strangulations. They took place on Chicago’s South and West sides over the last two decades. All of the victims were women and more than three-quarters were African-American women. And the list goes on from there.
A nonprofit called the Murder Accountability Project used a computer algorithm to identify this particular pattern of murders in Chicago, and CPD says it is aware of that algorithm.
Thomas Hargrove, a retired investigative journalist, is the group’s founder and chairman.
Identifying patterns in murder records
Thomas Hargrove: The way [our] algorithm works is it takes — we now have 769,000 murder records — and it organizes them into more than 10,000 groups, looking for groups of homicides of similar victims: male or female, similar methods of killing: the weapon used, and in a similar geography: either the metro area or a particular county. It looks for clusters that had extremely low clearance rates. The reason it does that is we’ve found that the presence of a serial killer can affect the batting average for police — how often they solve a murder. We concentrate on female murders because the FBI tells us that serial killers most often target women, and so we concentrate on murders of women. And most of the time, murders of women are solved, in Chicago even.