Murder Rate Soars In OKC

Saturday, December 22nd 2012, 5:58 pm
By: News 9

By Evan Anderson, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- For the first time in more than 40 years, nearly 100 people have been murdered in Oklahoma City, and it's still more than a week away before the end of the year.

News 9 sat down with a local criminologist who says Oklahoma City is one of the few places in the country where the crime rate is still considered high. Across the country, we're told crime and murder rates are actually down. The question now is, what's driving the historic spike in homicides in Oklahoma City?

An alleged obsession ended in a murder suicide early Friday morning. Two men are now dead, a woman assaulted, and four children are now in protective custody. This makes murder number 98 for Oklahoma City.

12/21/2012 Related Story: Alleged Obsession Leads to Murder, Suicide In OKC

"I think you have to go back in the 60's to find a year like this," said Criminologist, Howard A.Kurtz.  

Dr. Kurtz says there's a number of possibilities as to why this year's murder rate has sky rocketed.

"We have a pretty high gang presence, and there was a study done a few years ago. Oklahoma City was named as one of the top five  in the United States as far as the number of gangs that existed," Kurtz said.  

But he also points out that's just part of the issue. Recently, there's been a number of domestic issues like the one this past Friday on the northwest side of the city.

"And with the domestic homicides, we tend to look at other factors," said Kurtz. "Often times people want to include the economy as a major driving force in all of this."

But overall, Kurtz says the demographics for these murders are fairly classic. They're happening in low income neighborhoods where there are young single mothers trying to raise children of their own. 

"People need to start engaging with their kids, and start being parents," said Oklahoma Country District Attorney, David Prater. "We have too many kids on the street these days who haven't had parents, and they grow up raising themselves."

Prater sounded off on the issue after Connor Mason was sentenced to life in prison Friday for senselessly killing a homeless man in 2009. 

"They have guns in their hands early. They're using drugs and alcohol earlier and earlier, and they have no moral compass," Prater said.

Kurtz says Oklahoma City normally averages about 60 murders a year. He also mentioned a mild winter may be one possible explanation for this year's murder uptick. He said people are out more, and they're more likely to interact with one another.