The Murder Accountability Project (MAP) is a nonprofit organization that tracks and compiles government and law-enforcement information on homicides.
That may seem sort of pedestrian at first, but, so far, MAP has put together data on 638,454 killings that date from 1980 to 2014, including an astonishing 23,219 that never got reported to the FBI.
Using material gathered via Freedom of Information act requests, the MAP site also include complete access to the Uniform Crime Report from 1965 to the present, and the Supplementary Homicide Report from 1976 to the present.
Here’s the kicker: MAP’s website is free and open for anyone to use.
Visitors can search by weapons, method, location, victim specifics, and other criteria. So, yes, right now, you can log on to pick out and piece together trends, evidence, and clues that can lead to the capture of a murderer.
On top of all that, MAP boasts a new technology to act as your scientific partner in all such pursuits. Former journalist Thomas K. Hargrove founded the Murder Accountability Project. He’s recently released an algorithm he’s been developing since 2008 that groups and analyzes data to pick out commonalities between cases.
After myriad trials and prototypes, Hargrove hit on the right formula after running it on Gary Ridgway, the serial murderer known as “The Green River Killer.”
In addition to properly identifying Ridgway, the algorithm revealed 77 unsolved murders in Los Angeles and 64 unsolved killings, specifically of women, in Phoenix.
For the growing movement of armchair detectives and Websleuths — as well as professional law-enforcement officers — such news could hardly be huger.
Talking to Bloomberg Business Week, Hargrove said: “You can call up your hometown and look and see if you see anything suspicious. If you’re the father of a murdered daughter, you can call up her record, and you can see if there might be other records that match. We wanted to be able to crowdsource murder.”
Janet Oliva, president of the FBI’s International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship, has endorsed MAP, telling Hargrove: “I believe every law-enforcement agency should be made aware of and utilize this program’s database.”
Last year, Hargrove appeared alongside members of Websleuths, one of the most prominent amateur investigator collectives, on an episode of the docu-series The Killing Season.
The show detailed their ongoing pursuit of LISK, which is short for “Long Island Serial Killer,” a murderer, mostly of female sex workers, who is believed to have slain up to 16 victims over the course of 20 years without getting caught.
Perhaps a conclusive follow-up episode will be in order shortly — courtesy of Hargrove’s algorithm.
Main photo: Thomas Hargrove/KGO news video [screenshot]