A new article from Bloomberg chronicles Thomas Hargrove and his endeavors to develop an algorithm to track serial killers. More specifically, Hargrove crunches data in order to draw connections between seemingly unrelated murders. In 2010, Hargrove used his algorithm to analyze murders in Gary, Indiana. The results were jarring; Hargrove suspected a series of murders were likely perpetrated by the same killer. He contacted the Gary police with information from his algorithm but never received a response. A couple years later, a serial killer matching the general criminal profile of Hargrove’s mystery killer was apprehended. Due to a gag order surrounding the case, Hargrove never definitively confirmed if the apprehended man was the same killer from his algorithm.
While it is not yet entirely clear how useful Hargrove’s algorithm is, it is clear police departments could use all the help they can get. National homicide clearance rates hover around 65%. This means an arrest is made in only 65% of murder cases. Our criminal justice system can’t even claim that it prosecutes 65% of homicide cases. Something needs to be done. Hopefully, Hargrove’s algorithm, or something like it, is the answer.
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