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Unsolved: Investigative reports explore St. Louis's unsolved homicides

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's logo is emblazoned on a van.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The five-part series from St. Louis Public Radio, APM Reports and the Marshall Project runs through June 10.

Journalists at St. Louis Public Radio, APM Reports and The Marshall Project partnered on a 5-part investigation breaking down homicide clearance rates in St. Louis.

On Monday, St. Louis Public Radio (STLPR) began publishing a weeklong investigative series about more than 1,000 homicides that have gone unsolved in St. Louis.

Journalists at STLPR, APM Reports, and The Marshall Project partnered on the investigation that reveals homicide data that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department worked to keep from the public eye, showing that shoddy detective work, staffing shortages and eroding community trust contributed to the department’s inability to solve cases.

This investigative series is the result of a yearslong battle over a request for detailed homicide data from the city’s police department. The collaboration between STLPR and APM began in 2020, when both media organizations sought data from the department to better understand how often police solve homicides in the city.

The police department released some data, but withheld information on the clearance rate — whether the police solved the cases in question. Ultimately, APM Reports filed a lawsuit against the SLMPD in November of 2021 for violating Missouri’s open records law. That lawsuit was settled in June of 2023, leading to release of the data.

“Today is a victory for all who demand transparency and accountability from their public institutions,” STLPR Interim News Director Brian Heffernan said on Monday. “It’s clear the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department did not want us to publish this reporting. This yearslong investigation is a reminder of the power and value of relentless journalists who work to serve the public interest.”

Police respond to a deadly shooting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023 at Lindell and Spring, just off the campus of St. Louis University, in St. Louis. The shooting left one victim dead, with another person transported off the scene.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department respond to a deadly shooting in August 2023 at Lindell and Spring, just off the campus of St. Louis University.

An initial report published by STLPR and APM Reports last summer revealed the raw number of unsolved murders in the city between 2014 and 2023. This new multi-part series results from a year’s worth of analysis and investigative reporting by STLPR, APM Reports and The Marshall Project on the clearance rate and the tremendous impact that unsolved homicides have on communities and families in St. Louis.

“I am grateful that [these families] chose to share their stories,” said STLPR Justice Correspondent Rachel Lippmann. “I can't imagine how hard it is to relive a moment over and over again, especially when you don’t have answers.”

“Multiple experts have told me the same thing. When the job of the police, as perceived by the public, is to make arrests for crimes, if they can’t do that, it degrades the faith of communities that already feel devalued,” Lippmann said.

The reporting also reveals that in many cases, unsolved homicides lead to additional violence.

“The inability to solve cases adds more cases to [the detectives’] workload,” Lippmann said. “And you just set up a spiral of unsolved cases that can lead to additional violence, which leads to additional unsolved cases and it just keeps going.”

A Black woman with curly hair is washed in red light.
Eric Lee
St. Louis Public Radio
Monthane Miller-Jones poses for a portrait in March 2024 outside her home in Florissant. Her son, Mario Fox, was shot and killed in St. Louis in 2018.

Read and Hear the Unsolved 5-Part Series


Why 1,000 homicides in St. Louis remain unsolved 🔉

Journalists Rachel Lippmann and Tom Scheck discuss this story on St. Louis on the Air 🔊

How we reported on St. Louis' homicide investigations


In St. Louis, a racial disparity of whose murders get solved 🔉


Some St. Louis detectives may have botched homicide investigations 🔉


As murders increased, St. Louis police struggled for resources to solve cases 🔉


St. Louis homicide cases often go unsolved. Victims' families want justice 🔉


MONDAY, JUNE 10: Five Key Takeaways

4240 John Avenue on Monday, March 18, 2024, in Fairground. St. Louis has experienced nearly 1,000 unsolved murders since 2014.
Eric Lee
St. Louis Public Radio
4240 John Avenue, pictured upper right, is where three young Black women were killed on December 22, 2017.

Join us June 25th:

STLPR, APM Reports and The Marshall Project will jointly host a discussion of the reporting on Tuesday, June 25 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at STLPR’s headquarters at UMSL at Grand Center.

The public is invited to hear from reporters and editors from each organization about what they’ve uncovered. We’ll also hear from community members who have lost loved ones to violence in St. Louis and have worked tirelessly to get justice for them. Audience Q&A and reception to follow.

Register to attend.

Support for this reporting

This series of stories was produced as part of a collaborative investigation between St. Louis Public Radio, The Marshall Project, and APM Reports through the Public Media Accountability Initiative, which supports investigative reporting at local media outlets around the country. Financial support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and donations from individuals who believe that journalism is essential for a thriving democracy.

As the Communications Specialist for St. Louis Public Radio, Fontella gets to showcase the award-winning local reporting, original programming and community engagement that make STLPR a beloved regional institution.