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Value of Life in Death: Multiple Regression and Event History Analysis of Homicide Clearance in Los Angeles County

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 6 Dated: November/December 2005 Pages: 527-534
Catherine Lee
Date Published
November 2005
8 pages
Using multiple-regression and event-history techniques to analyze all homicides committed in Los Angeles County from 1990 through 1994, this study found that extralegal variables, such as the gender and race/ethnicity of the victim, influenced the likelihood of clearing a case as well as the time required to solve the murder.
Over this period, there were 9,442 homicides, excluding accidental, vehicular, and justifiable homicides. Data were obtained for these cases through each stage of criminal justice processing. The dependent variable was homicide cases cleared, defined as an arrest made or authorized but not implemented due to the defendant's suicide or inaccessibility. Independent variables involved a variety of legal and extralegal variables that pertained to the circumstances of the crime, victim-offender relationship, and victim and offender characteristics. Fifty-four percent of the cases were solved, with 47 percent resulting in arrests and formal charges of murder or manslaughter. Nearly half (48.8) percent of all victims were Latino, with African-Americans composing 33.9 percent, non-Hispanic Whites accounting for 13.1 percent, and Asians 3.9 percent. Forty-six percent of cases with African-American victims were unsolved; 48 percent of cases with Latino victim cases remained open; and 37 percent of cases with non-Hispanic White victims were not cleared. Findings included the following: cases with non-White victims or elderly victims were less likely to be solved; cases with young children or teen victims were more likely to be solved; cases with female victims were more likely to be solved; clearances were less likely in cases in which offenders were strangers to victims; multiple victim cases were more likely to be cleared; and cases handled by the Los Angeles Police Department were more likely to be cleared than those handled by other municipal departments in the county. 2 tables, 3 notes, and 34 references