Breaking down murder by the numbers

According to Memphis Police, Downtown is the safest area of the city. They have no reports of any murders there at all this year. However, the numbers reveal that it's fair game across the rest of the city.

"I want them to see our family and what they have taken away from us," Marquita Broady said Monday.

Four days later, she was preparing for her husband's funeral. He was an innocent bystander killed this week during an argument over $20. Now he's another tragic statistic added to some already daunting numbers.

Criminal Justice expert Dr. Lisa Settle took a look at a Memphis Police 2006 Murder Analysis.

"Most homicides happened in the summer and we set a record already from January to May. We're not per se on track to beat the record, but we haven't reached the peak months yet," said Dr. Settle.

The current record is 213 murders in 1993.

According to the report, Memphians are 75% more likely to know their killer than to be attacked by a stranger. However, out of 57 murders between January and May of 2006, seven died in random robberies and two were innocent bystanders.

Since Action News 5 requested the report a month ago, there have been 15 additional murders.

"May not be a best friend, may not be a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, but most often people are killed by what the law classifies as an acquaintance," explained Dr. Settle.

In fact, victims are almost five times more likely to be killed by an acquaintance, than a relative or stranger. Less than 1% of all the people in Memphis will become the victim of murder at the hand of a stranger.

When it comes to race, African-Americans are more likely to die, making up 86% of murder victims in 2006 and 96% of murder suspects were male..

"We have to look at education level, drop-out rates, we have to look at unemployment and all of those factors make a difference," Settle said.

Little Rock had 33 murders so far this year. While that's less than half of Memphis' 72, it's disturbing enough that Gov. Mike Huckabee offered to send the city help in the form of State Police.

Little Rock's murder rate this year is slightly higher than in 1993. That's the same year that Memphis set its murder record.

Little Rock officials say that year, increased gang activity caused a rise in killings topping out at 76 for the year.

Just this past Monday, Little Rock had four murders in one day.

"It's shocking number one, and in the midst of all that we've been doing, it's frustrating," said Mayor Jim Dailey.

Little Rock's murder rate is being partly blamed on jail overcrowding. The jail has not been open for regular bookings in several months. The city may propose a tax increase to build more jail space.

Nashville Metro Police report 38 murders in Davidson County so far this year. That's compared with 37 the same time last year.