Getting Away With Murder

It has never been easier to be an undetected serial killer in the United States.

That’s the opinion of two experts in the field of collecting murder data in America. And both men say that as you read this there are thousands of active serial killers roaming the U.S.. Some operate in big cities, others prefer the wide open spaces of rural America.

Here’s the most frightening part: since only about 60 percent of murders are solved these days that means about 40 percent of the time murderers will get away with it. If the uncaught are serial killers – that being someone who has committed two or more separate murders often with a sadistic sexual component – they will very likely murder again.

Together These Serial Killers Murdered Dozens – Flikr

The FBI maintains that serial killers account for fewer than 1 percent of all murders but that assertion has been challenged by experts at the Murder Accountability Project. MAP’s founder Thomas Hargrove and Director Michael Arntfield, the aforementioned experts in the field of murder data, believe savvy serial killers are responsible for a considerable number of those unsolved killings.

Hargrove and Arntfield maintain that government murder statistics are sorely out of whack with reality. In large part because thousands of murders, specifically indigenous women and girls, have gone uncounted.  MAP has now sued the DOJ, FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense and other federal agencies for failing to keep an accurate count as required by a 1988 law. They offer as evidence their carefully maintained data base, the largest in the nation.

MAP Keeps the Largest Murder Data Base in United States

“There are more than 222,000 unsolved murders since 1980,” Hargrove said. “I’ll say almost every major American city has multiple serial killers and multiple uncaught serial killers.” Hargrove pegs the current number of active serial killers in the U.S. at more than 2,000.

Arntfield, a former police detective and author of 12 books, thinks the number is much higher – between 3,000 and 4,000 active serial killers. He attributes the high percentage of unsolved murders to several things:  the dissolution of communities where people look out for each other, less experienced police detectives being assigned to homicide cases, smarter killers who learned from television how to fool cops by staging scenes or planting meaningless evidence and occupations such as long distance truckers that make detecting serial killers next to impossible.

“The (FBI’s) Highway Serial Killer Initiative has about 400 to 450 offender profiles of unidentified subjects on its database alone that are involved in the trucking industry,” Arntfield said. These drivers can cover the entire Interstate system in the United States, frequently traveling through isolated areas and into Canada. They might pick up a stranger in one state and when the unidentified body is found several states away police have few clues to follow. Other top occupations of known serial killers, Arntfield writes in his book Murder in Plain English, include police officers, military personnel, forestry workers, hotel porters and warehouse managers.

By Michael Arntfield – Amazon

And in case you wondered, a majority of serial killers (52%) are white men. Their favorite weapon, according to Arntfield, was a gun (42%) but some used poison and a few preferred an axe.

It is important to note that none of Arntfield’s findings pertained to Samuel Little, 79, now identified by the FBI as the most prolific serial killer in American history. Little is a Black man. He worked as a boxer and an ambulance attendant. He said he strangled women to death for the sexual pleasure of it. He has confessed to murdering 93 women over four decades beginning in 1970.  The FBI believes all his confessions are credible.

A sad sidebar to all these statistics. A majority of the victims of serial killers are women. Many come from hard knock backgrounds. Some are prostitutes, many are addicted to drugs. None of that means their murders should be ignored. And it doesn’t mean federal agencies should fail to include them in the official murder tally.



  1. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Reader Bill Voinovich writes:

    What an utterly IDIOTIC statement…
    If YOU happen to be in an area where one IS, then it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of difference if there IS only one roaming the country……See More

  2. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Reader Delilah Jones writes:

    Fascinating information. Had the pleasure of booking Thomas Hargrove for a conference a few years ago and his work is quite eye-opening! Glad to see it’s getting some traction. Thanks!

  3. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Reader Fred Mizzi writes:

    These last 3 years exposed more homegrown terrorism then we believed exsisted and at the very least we seen who most are!

  4. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2020 at 9:19 am

    Reader amesMadison1791 writes:

    I claim no expertise in this subject, other than the curiosity these figures seem to engender in many.

    However, I do a lot of reading on subjects of interest. While reading this column, I recognized some factual problems.

    Ms. Dimond’s definition of a serial killer does not match with FBI criteria (of course, FBI definitions do not agree). It may be MAP’s criteria which would explain some of the discrepancy between the two.

    By congress, definition of Serial killings (from Protection of Children from Sexual Predator Act of 1998 (Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 51, and Section 1111).

    The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.

    By the FBI;
    1. must have committed at least Three (not two) over more than a month WITH a cool down period between each murder. They, also, go on to state that there is a qualitative difference between serial killers and other killers. For instance, generally, “gang bangers” that may commit three or more murders over months ore, even years, are not classified as Serial Killers.

    I would agree that the FBI could very well be underestimating the number of Serial Killers active in the US, but, until, first, a specific definition of the term is agreed upon, there is no possibility of accurately counting the number. Only after that can, even, an attempt be made to clarify discrepancies.

    • Diane Dimond on January 6, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Diane Dimond replies to JamesMadison1791

      I completly agree with your conclusion that no accurate count can occur until everyone decides on a uniform definition. You quote from the 1998 Sexual Predator Act — but much has changed/evolved since then. The FBI has jumped back and forth between how many murders one person commits over a period of time (with cooling off time in between) before they are are labeled as a “serial killer.” If memory serves at one time it was four. Then three, then 2. … Frankly, its been hard to keep up. Again, I agree this is an area where uniformity is a must! Thanks for taking the time to write.

      Diane DImond

  5. Diane Dimond on January 9, 2020 at 10:05 am

    Reader Jake Deptula writes:

    Interesting read and very disturbing if true.

    • Diane Dimond on January 9, 2020 at 10:06 am

      Diane replies to Jake:

      Follow the links to check my source material! I always supply links for my readers. ~ DD

  6. Diane Dimond on January 11, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Reader Jack Labusch writes;

    Thanks for your “Getting Away with Murder in U. S.”. Our murder clearance rate locally was once very low, and I’ve wondered how many murderers have gotten away scot-free. That 222,000 figure is truly astounding.

  7. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Reader Andy Pal writes:

    Alarming info. So if the MAP’s numbers are correct, why does the FBI not concur, and what solutions is anyone prepared to bring to the table?

    • Diane Dimond on January 16, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Diane replies to Andy:

      I would imagine there are those within the FBI that don’t want to alarm the general population by saying there are more active serial killers roaming around. But, honestly, there is really no way (that I know of) to rectify the difference between MAP’s serial killer numbers and those of the FBI. MAP believes many of the unsolved murders are the work of serial killers – and that might be true – but how can you prove it if the murders are unsolved? Truth may line somewhere in the middle.

  8. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Reader Karen Devereaux Scioscia writes:


  9. Diane Dimond on January 20, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Reader Gerald Posner writes:

    Why am I not surprised the FBI gets this so wrong?

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