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An early look at Utah's 2013 homicide totals, so far

Published November 26, 2013 12:50 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Among my various responsibilities here at The Salt Lake Tribune, I'm the reporter tasked with counting the year's homicides. We publish a final tally and analysis every year, and as we enter the home stretch of 2013, I thought I would pull the curtain back a bit and give you all an inside look into how this year is shaping up.

So far, 43 people have been killed (that we know of), not counting people whose deaths resulted from justified use of police force. Barring any more homicides, Utah is on track for a continued decline — 49 people were killed in 2012, and 52 were killed in 2011, even as the state's population continued to grow.

But this year's total, and all of these corresponding breakdowns below, are subject to change. The year is not over yet, and sometimes I find out about a homicide that I had missed earlier in the year. There are also some suspicious deaths that investigators may ultimately decide are homicides, which we would then add to the list.

Check back with us in about a month for the final tally, but for now, here is an impression of 2013, by the numbers:

Who is dying? • The average age for a victim is 41 years old, and about 66 percent of the victims so far were male. Six of the victims were children.

Where have people died? • Salt Lake County claims the highest proportion — 42 percent so far — which is not surprising, since it has the largest concentration of people. From there, it's a pretty steep decline. Most other counties, if they show up on the list at all, share about 2 to 7 percent of all homicides. Only Utah County rises above that, at 16 percent.

How did they die? • At least half the time, the victims knew their alleged killer, and about 60 percent of the time, the victim was shot. What might surprise you is that the second-most common cause of death is not stabbing, beating or strangling, but automobile homicide, which accounts for 16 percent.

Michael McFall