Hello, Clarice, Is The Northwest The Serial Killer Capital?

Oct 31, 2016

There’s a myth that the Northwest is a hub of serial killers. After all, some of America’s most notorious murderers come from the region, such as  Gary Ridgway, the so-called “Green River Killer,” known as America’s most prolific serial killer. He pled guilty to 49 murders (and may have killed many more).


A great deal has been written about the serial killers of the Northwest. Stories from The Seattle Times, KNKX, and many more have all helped reinforce the idea that the Northwest is the serial killer capital of the world.


But is it true?


It’s complicated. Washington ranks fifth for serial killers by state, behind New York, California, Florida, and Texas. But Washington also has a smaller population than those states. Some have theorized that killers, who often travel, end up migrating west. Other experts say it’s overstated.


Either way, there’s not a lot of good data but a lot of speculation including claims that the rural Northwest may have bodies yet to be discovered. If there are bodies, well, they haven’t been found. And remember this, the Northwest has one of the lowest murder rates in the country: about 3 homicides for every 100,000 people annually, according to The Seattle Times.


You probably don’t need to worry about serial killers here. Even if the Northwest has a disproportionately high serial killer population, you’re more likely to be killed by other things, such as drowning or a motorcycle crash. Nonetheless, “serial killer” is likely to remain a more popular Halloween costume than “heart disease.”


Copyright 2016 Northwest Public Radio