It’s a common denominator throughout the True Crime world. No podcast, article or TV show goes long without mentioning unidentified, unknown or unsolved murders. One thing I’ve always tried to do, is dig a little deeper. “Triple Us” is what we called marginalized and/or forgotten murder victims. Either they’re unidentified, their cause of death is unknown or their murder is just unsolved.
The biggest complaint by casual consumers of current True Crime media is understandable, these stories lack resolution. Quite a contrast from Mystery and Detective novels, where our main man battling his own demons solves a virtually unsolvable crime by some brilliant criminal mastermind- the one person you least suspected. Now I have to admit, that EXACTLY was my problem with detective novels and other more genre specific true crime tales inspired by true stories… it’s just not reality folks.
The Missing Missing and Chicago PD’s Murder Clearance Rate Disaster
In 2007, Kenna Quinet, an associate professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis- published in the journal of Homicide Studies, “The Missing Missing, Toward a Quantification of Serial Murder Victimization in the United States”. Her research quickly points out that at least one-third of predatory killer’s victims are absent from police missing-persons databases or remain unidentified. Sadly because most are female prostitutes, teenage runaways or adults who were runaways and never reported missing.
She referred to these victims as the “missing missing”, mostly transient women on the lower rung of society whose absences went unnoticed.
Earlier this year, the Chicago Tribune did a Special Report titled “75 women who were strangled or smothered to death in Chicago. Worse, most of their killers got away”
Friends ask me all the time why the hit TV show COPS or Live PD haven’t featured the Chicago Police Department. Since Daley Jr. and now Rahm Emmanuel, the city has made it clear, they believe these shows would give Chicago a bad image.
Reality is, it could be further from the truth. While they did a First 48 Missing Person special, producers were extremely limited on what, where and who they could film. Chicago doesn’t want reality police documentaries featuring Chicago PD because the mayor’s office and police superintendent don’t trust their officers.
Don’t worry folks, Chicagoans don’t either.
Whether it’s the culture of using excessive force as standard practice, daily officer related shootings, just not giving a fuck when a woman with an order of protection against her ex-boyfriend is kicking in her door and he subsequently kills her or “Homan Square”(a CPD black site” where American citizens were illegally detained off the grid- disappeared for days, were tortured, denied phone calls, refused their right to an attorney, beaten and intimidated), the Chicago machine doesn’t want you to get a glimpse of The Chicago Way.
For decades we were told by the experts, who inspired films, novels & shows peddled this fiction to us. We long believed serial killers were these intriguing socially awkward, yet cunning or should I say brilliant criminal masterminds whose only fault was/is… their genius bordering insanity. Instead, once again, we’re reminded that this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. These are men (mostly) who blend in so well, they’re exactly the opposite of what their “profiles” told us- in conjunction with innuendo and interpretation from experts. They’re working men with families, who not only been at the same job for twenty years, but well liked in their communities. Yes, I’m talking about the likes of John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader, Gary Ridgeway & Joseph Deangelo. Not criminal masterminds, but ordinary Joes, married, gainfully employed and most had children. While Deangelo has reportedly always been a bit on edge, it’s quite the contrast from the stealth home invader from forty years ago who allegedly spent hours prowling neighborhoods, quietly entering residences with an unsuspecting husband and wife inside.
What makes these killers far more dangerous in my opinion at the very least- the extreme cooling off periods that the FBI once claimed was impossible. We’ve been told that serial killers are impulsive and just cannot stop. While some might take comfort in their ability to “stop”, what this tells us is that these men aren’t insane by the legal definition and they’re not acting on impulses or urges, but opportunity and satisfaction. Which means that “hidden victims”, “Triple Us” and the “Missing Missing” could simply be prime victims that we’ll never know about or will they get properly tracked.
Kenna Quinet didn’t just simply challenge misconceptions and misrepresentations of not only serial killers and their victims with hard data, but shed light on a reality that we still ignore to this very day. We are still in the first stage of acceptance or should I say… recovery about the hidden epidemic of women being hunted and murdered. We are in denial. Triple Us and the ‘Missing Missing’ illustrates exactly what we really should have known all along, especially ten years after Quinet’s exceptional research; that predatory murder of women is far greater than we’ve ever been able to ever speculate. One-to-two thousand women are murdered annually not by their boyfriends, spouse or obsessed friends, but opportunistic maniacs. If you’re still under the belief that maybe there maybe just 25 to 100 serial killers active out there, the number of the “Missing Missing’ alone is staggering.
It’s no secret that majority of women are murdered by their partners. What Quinet’s research suggests though is alarming; the most accurate figure may be as high as 2,000 serial killer victims annually, or 10 times the number given by academic estimates cited by often the FBI. That was over ten years ago.
What the Chicago Tribune did was take women just smothered or strangled, and if you want to know why, the reason is simple. Gang violence dominates the Chicago Metropolitan ‘crime wire’. A woman shot or killed will be treated as a gang related murder, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their murders. Sadly, gang violence is what dominates headlines and that once again marginalizes victims in Chicago. With less than a third of these 75 murders solved, it leaves 51 families searching for answers. It’s troubling because these murders can’t be brushed off simply as “gang violence”. While most expected that the vast majority would have been killed by intimate partners, this shows that the most scrutinized suspects were cleared, leaving it either to mere acquaintances or strangers, which is most likely.
Have no fear though, the Chicago Police Department never misses an opportunity to lie and embarrass themselves, as they say “they’ve uncovered no evidence of a serial killer” in any of these murders. Obviously they captured 24 of these murderers, which all but a few were intimate partners or former intimate partners. The pattern is alarming and several of the cases highlighted in the Chicago Tribune’s article should warrant more thorough investigation. With CPD’s homicide clearance rate being one of the lowest in the nation, I’d suggest third or independent parties; something CPD absolutely refuses to allow. Don’t think for one minute that it has anything to do with politicians fearing that independent investigations or documentaries having a negative impact on how folks view “Chicago”. Their fear is simple, they don’t want CPD’s culture exposed from an inside view. Mayor Emmanuel and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson don’t trust that their officers can act right for a few hours of filming, yet they fully expect and demand that Chicagoans trust and respect the CPD and accept without a shred of doubt whatever conclusion they present to the public.
While most would argue that nothing suggests this is the work of several serial killers and a dozen or so angry or jealous men, it’s preposterous to believe that 51 separate men just up and strangled or suffocated a woman one day. Should that be the case, we have a problem that is far worse than thirty or so killers. It means we have 51 killers that may have killed a woman they were merely acquainted with or a complete stranger.
Either way, or whatever other theory you may have, this is alarming. In the 1960s, murder clearance rates (a suspect arrested) was at around 90 percent. While it could be argued that police back then were virtually infallible in the eyes of the public, and easily resorted to coercion which lead to wrongful arrests and convictions that would go untested back then, you’d also have to believe police were doing this at rates unheard of. The majority of those wrongfully convicted back then were boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, simply because they had violent histories or some type of justification to build a case against them. When tunnel vision and wrongful arrest happened, it was not out of spite or hate, political or racial motivation, but because detectives would believe with their whole heart these individuals were guilty, they were willing to bend and outright break the rules to build a case. Unlike today though, conviction rates were not as high for wrongful arrest to lead into a wrongful conviction.
Regardless, the vast majority of wrongful convictions rest in the plea bargain scheme, which people are far too poor to fight and clear their name. They plead guilty to get back to work and to their kids. They just can’t afford the bail.
Pseudo-Science and An Inconvenient, yet Dangerous Reality
Where does the problem lie and why are these cases not being cleared like in the past?
First, look no further than the ‘War on Drugs’. Police and investigators are overburdened today with the number of crimes and gangs they’re dealing with. Despite advancements in forensic science and DNA, murders today are more complicated than ever. Gangs killing over turf, colors or drugs have no link to their victims. Police have to spend more time and resources trying to solve these. Because of this, police have less time to spend on murders that are not easily linked. Once police clear a woman’s intimate partner, friends and family, then they are hunting a predatory killer.
Second, police often are the last to admit they might have a serial killer on their hands, especially with no obvious links or if the killer is travelling the interstate and not killing at a high frequency. Unfortunately, this is where “The Missing Missing” fit in perfectly as victims. Young girls and women that were never reported missing, with many that don’t carry identification or carry false identification. Without family and friends to put pressure on investigators for these victims and with scant evidence & leads, these women lose priority. Since many are prostitutes and/or runaways, killers exploit this.
Finally, it’s the misconceptions, myths and misunderstands that plague the public and law enforcement agencies to this very day. When police have little to work with, they all too often rely on “profilers” and so-called experts that have created the modern illusion of the serial killer. Once again, the recent apprehension of Joe Deangelo, aka The East Area Rapist, Original Nightstalker, Golden State Killer or simply EARONS has broke all the so-called rules we’ve followed and trusted.
As I’ve always said and most detectives agree today, profiling is pure “junk science”. Not a single offender has ever been apprehended or even identified due to a profile. Gacy, Ridgeway, Rader and now Deangelo, has proven that Douglas’ reliance on interviews and questionnaires with former serial killers for “factual data” was deeply flawed. Perhaps you’re wondering why the FBI has a super BAU division like in “Criminal Minds” that focuses on profiling, you’d be mistaken. The Behavioral Analysis Unit has little to do with profiling, in fact- what once was a large portion of the division, now has a half dozen profilers, which is no longer their primary focus. Make no mistake, peddlers such as Jim Clemente and John Douglas made a good enough living giving “cold readings” or profiles. Sadly, it’s a waste of money and time. Makes good TV though. Not doubt many in their fan base will jump to their defense, let me by clear that I believe their overall intentions are good, it’s often poor information presented as science and fact.
Not only as a community, but society as a whole needs to come together and educate ourselves better on the criminal element that not only threatens the women in our lives, but a better awareness of “The Missing Missing”. In the last couple of years I’ve read many complaints directed at the True Crime community for “recycling” the same two dozen cases, however, I’ve personally read and listened to a good mix of cases that I’ve never heard of. Unfortunately, today’s political climate when it comes to sexual assault also demonstrates that we still have a long way to go, but the True Crime community has done an excellent job on getting the information out there.
These murder rates are staggering over ten years later and still not talked about. It’s horrifying that a loved one would take the life of the woman they claim to love, often the mother of their children, It’s equally terrifying to know that there are predators out there not simply driven by impulse, but waiting in the shadows patiently for a victim of opportunity.