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One in Two Baltimore Murder Cases Over a 5-Year Period Remain Open

Updated: Tuesday, February 4 2014, 10:46 AM EST

Baltimore City has recorded a total of 27 homicides in 2014 so far, a pace not seen since 2007. Over half of all the murders in the city have something in common, something which may be responsible for driving the cycle of violence -- the clearance rate.

One of the hundreds of unsolved murders in the city was the shooting of Joseph Haskins, a case that rocked a city already accustomed to violence. Haskins, the cousin of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was shot in the head during a home invasion in his northeast Baltimore home in May 2013.

"None of this is acceptable to me as mayor," Rawlings-Blake said of the city's murder rate. "Not the first homicide, not the fifth and not the hundredth, and when they remain unsolved, it's something that impacts my family personally and all of the citizens of Baltimore."

Haskin's case is just one of hundreds of unsolved murders in the city, making Baltimore a veritable land of the unsolved. It's a statistic that some say may be driving the city's homicide rate higher.

"Obviously if you're not clearing murders right now, if you don't have a high clearance rate, then you're going to continue to have problems," former FBI agent Tyrone Powers said.

Statistics obtained from a homicide detective reveal just how large the backlog is. Of the 226 homicides recorded in 2012, only 98 are closed. Two years ago, when the city notched just 198 homicides, only 95 of those cases are closed.

In fact, of the murders in Baltimore over the past five years, one in two of the cases remain open. That's roughly 500 unsolved murders and a clearance rate of 50% - significantly lower than the national average of 65%.

However, former Baltimore City Homicide Detective Lieutenant Stephen Tabeling says the numbers don't tell the full story because cases are deemed closed once a suspect is arrested - not convicted.

"You can have a clearance rate of up to 50%, but with the 50%, how many murders are convicted," Tabeling said. "I'm sure that every clearance rate is not a conviction."

The State's Attorney's office declined to provide its annual conviction rate.

One in Two Baltimore Murder Cases Over a 5-Year Period Remain Open

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