Sunday, October 10, 2010

We're Number 1 !! (Erm, in serial killers)

As a loyal and faithful reader, you will know about my interest in serial killers (purely an intellectual fascination, of course). And I posted a while back about an FBI seminar I attended that addressed the Bureau's Highway Serial Killer Initiative (HSI).

Back then, I learned that there were approximately 200 serial killers zooming around the U.S. (mostly driving trucks) and roughly 500 bodies have been found along the nation's highways.

Well, guess which state is number one in highway serial killers? Yes, it's Texas!! Okay, I know I shouldn't be excited but it makes a change from leading the nation in uninsured, flooding deaths, repeat teen births, workplace deaths, non-political hot air, and erudite English prosecutors.

Of the 459 homicides over the past 40 years, 38 were in Texas. Those crazy Californians were close with 37, and Florida came in third at 33 (although I'm betting half those were old people who wandered into the road while looking for golf balls).

In real kill-joy fashion, the Statesman tries to make us look good by saying:

"Some of the grimness here can be explained by Texas’s vast highway system: The state has more interstate miles, by far, than any other state — 306,000 miles in all, according to the Census Bureau. That’s about 135,000 miles more than No. 2 California. Which seems to indicate our serial killing per mile (SKPM) rate is relatively low."

What stands out from that analysis, of course, is that there's an acronym for "serial killing per mile."

Which makes me picture this scene, one truck driver selling his rig to another:

"How much you want, Bob?"
"Forty thousand."
"Oh, sounds like a lot to me. It's a 1999 Volvo, right?"
"Yep. 250,000 miles on her."
"Not too bad, comes to what...?"
"Almost 30,000 SKPM. Pretty decent, you gotta admit."
"Yeah, sure is. My old rust-bucket barely gets me 15,000 SKPM. Course, that's my fault, not hers. Throw in a ski mask and hatchet, I'll take 'er."

Now, let me be clear. I am fascinated by serial killers and I am afflicted by a need to share black humor. But I am horrified that so many young (mostly) people are being killed in Texas and beyond, their bodies dumped by the roadside like trash. It makes me wonder how many other people are out there, listed as missing but their bodies lying, as yet unfound, in ditches and deserts, woods and lakes. Pretty disturbing.

That said, having met a couple of the FBI guys spearheading this initiative, I am reassured. They are using incredible pieces of technology (like I'm gonna tell you what exactly!) to catch the buggers responsible and I can guarantee that in the near-future we'll all be reading about the apprehension of some of those murderers in the media.

And, by all accounts, a fair few will be popping up in the Texas newspapers.


  1. Of course, they don't know if these are "serial" murders or not until they catch somebody and figure out how many people they killed. Part of what's happening is that even as incarceration levels have gone up, clearance rates for the most serious crimes, especially murder, have gone down. IMO it's in part because of overemphasis by law enforcement on the drug war, DWI, etc., as opposed to the traditional murders, rapes, robberies, etc., that previously occupied their time.

  2. You know, that's a good point Grits. I suppose one relies on the assumption they are serial killings. The alternative is just as frightening - 500 murderers out there as opposed to 200.

    I hadn't realized the clearance rate was down on the most serious crimes. I need to look at those stats.

  3. This is an interesting study. Canadian authorities specifically the RCMP (Federal) are using the same techniques for our main highways. So far no arrests, but definitely something worth pursuing.

  4. DAC, check out MSM stories on declining clearance rates here and here.

    IMO the trend arises from the obvious opportunity costs involved when we focus law enforcement resources on social problems like drinking, drug use and dealing with the mentally ill as opposed to solving more traditional crimes.


Comments posted to this blog are NOT the opinion of the Travis County D.A.'s office, under any circumstances. They are only the personal, non-representative opinion of D.A. Confidential if posted under his name.
I welcome all comments, as long as they are expressed with politeness and respect. I will delete all comments that I deem to be personal attacks, or that are posted merely to antagonize or insult.