10 Bizzare Crime Facts
Who doesn’t love a bizarre true crime story? The proliferation of documentary series, podcasts, and other true crime tales prove humans have an unorthodox fascination with crime stories. Whether it’s twists in true crime stories, crazy loopholes in the law, or the implausible details of a jaw-dropping case, the world of crime can captivate, horrify, and amaze.
Beyond the gruesome details, strange facts and figures about crime in the United States may surprise you. For instance, there’s a national park in the US where murder is technically legal. If you’ve ever wondered what type of vehicle is the most frequently stolen, or check out what statisticians and researchers have confirmed regarding true crime trivia.
There’s A Legal Murder Zone In Yellowstone National Park
There’s a 50-square-mile section in Yellowstone National Park where one can get away with murder and other crimes. Brian Kalt, a Michigan State University law professor, discovered the loophole in 2005 while researching jurisdictions for his article.
Yellowstone National Park, like all US national parks, is federal land, and if a person commits a crime there, it falls within federal jurisdiction. Under the Sixth Amendment, a person accused of a crime has the right to a jury trial. The panel must consist of residents from the state and federal district where the purported crime occurred. So how does this “murder zone” come into play?
There is a stretch of 50 miles within Yellowstone that crosses parts of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. If someone were to commit murder on this piece of land, the crime would take place in the state of Idaho, but under Wyoming’s discretion. This portion of Yellowstone is unpopulated, with no potential jury members living in the area. Therefore, no jury trial can take place.
Once Kalt made the discovery, he sent copies of his research to lawmakers with suggestions on how to fix the issue. His efforts proved fruitless, so this area of Yellowstone National Park remains a “murder zone.”
Crime Rates Rise Depending On The Temperature
The Chicago Tribune conducted a study and found certain crimes increase when the temperatures are higher, but the rate of some crimes decreases once the weather cools. Crimes occurring most often during hot days include assault, shootings, theft, and vandalism. The study concluded warm temperatures have little effect on homicide or drug-related crimes.
How does the weather affect criminal activity? Several researchers believe hot temperatures compel people to focus less on the future, thereby relinquishing self-control, which for some can lead to aggressive behavior and violence. Brad Bushman, a professor of psychology and communication at Ohio State University, explained, “Climate shapes how people live, it affects the culture in ways that we don’t think about in our daily lives.”
Police Can Confiscate Your Belongings If They Think You Purchased Them With Drug Money
Imagine getting pulled over by a police officer, and they seize your car, claiming you bought it with drug money – which seems ludicrous given your lack of any drug offenses. Could this happen? Indeed, police have the right to confiscate belongings, anything from cash to cars, if they believe it involved illegal procurement.
It’s called civil asset forfeiture, and this practice meant a total asset gain of $29 billion for US police departments from 2001 to 2014. Citizens can endure a lengthy and sometimes costly legal process to try to reclaim their belongings, but most do not bother, as the expenses can cost more than the items police seized.
Hanging Is Still Legal In Washington, New Hampshire, And Delaware
With the advent of lethal injection in 1977, administering a concoction of drugs replaced hanging as a form of execution in the United States – except in Washington, New Hampshire, and Delaware. Despite execution hangings being legal in these three states, none have occurred in the US since 1996, and that one took place in Delaware.
Delaware now officially recognizes lethal injection as its primary method of execution, but this excludes anyone sentenced to hanging before the 1986 law change.
If done correctly, hanging should cause near-instantaneous death, but it could also leave a victim in agonizing pain for many minutes. Over the years, there was much debate over the safest form of execution. Most current methods can result in a botched execution.
Male-Identifying Individuals With Less-Common Names Tend To Commit More Crimes
Considering the adage “It’s all in a name,” it’s not a bad idea to consider the future when naming a child. In 2009 a study revealed uncommon male names have a correlation with crime rates. The statistics come from a list of more than 15,000 names of people involved with a crime.
According to the study, Michael “was the least likely name to have an association with juvenile delinquency,” whereas Tyrell had a much lower rating on the point scale, and thus could more likely have a connection to juvenile crime. Two economists at Shippensburg University who performed the study, Dr. David E. Kalist and Dr. Daniel Y. Lee, concluded, “Regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity.”
Anchorage, AK, Is One Of The Most Dangerous Cities In America
Anchorage is the largest and allegedly most dangerous city in Alaska. According to a 2011 FBI crime report, which Forbes later compiled into a list, Anchorage was also one of America’s most dangerous cities. Anchorage, AK, was fifth on the list, following cities such as Detroit, MI; Flint, MI; and Memphis, TN.
The criteria for the list comprises cities with a population of more than 200,000; categories for violent crimes include homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault. Anchorage clocked in with 813 reported crimes per 100,000 city residents. In addition to the overall higher crime rate, rape is reportedly higher in Anchorage than elsewhere in Alaska. Moreover, property crime and methamphetamine use remain significant problems.
The Honda Accord Continues To Be The Most Stolen Vehicle
The 1996 Honda Accord is a reasonably priced vehicle with a reputation for endurance and sustainability. The Accord is also a favorite car among thieves in the US. For several years, the Honda Accord was at the top of the list as the most stolen car, particularly older models, as they do not have the same advanced security as newer cars.
A Honda spokesman said in a statement regarding the theft of Accords:
While we cannot completely account for criminal behavior, it is important to note that the Accord has been one of the most popular vehicles in the US for over 30 years, and in 2013 it was the best-selling new car to individual American buyers. Quality, reliability, and durability are hallmarks of the Honda brand, and more Honda vehicles sold in the last 25 years are still on the road than any other brand.
The car being such a best-seller only corroborates its reputation as the most stolen vehicle in the US.
Three States Allow Execution By Gas Chamber
Arizona, Missouri, and Wyoming still permit execution by gas chamber, according to a profile in The Washington Post. However, lethal injection is the preferred method in most states; the last person in the US to face a gas chamber execution was Walter LaGrand in 1999.
The gas chamber as an execution method is risky, complicated, and costly, hence lethal injection swiftly replaced it in 1977. However, nitrogen used as a deadly gas may be quicker and less painful than the commonly used cyanide gas; in the long term, nitrogen may be less likely to result in a botched execution.
There Are More People In Jail In The US Per Capita Than Anywhere Else In The World
Less than 5% of the global population lives in the United States, but the country has more than 20% of the world’s prison population. The US tends to heavily prosecute minor offenses with long sentences compared to other countries that don’t deem similar crimes prison-worthy. A 2013 report said there were 2.2 million incarcerated people in the US; China was second in the global lineup with 1.6 million prisoners on record, despite having a population four times larger than that of the US.
The US Is Statistically Safer Than It Was Decades Ago
While some Americans believe crime is on the rise, statistics show violent crime has fallen drastically over the years. The data emerged from the FBI’s crime report and surveys conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The stats collected by the FBI claim violent crime in the US dropped a staggering 48% between 1993 and 2016, whereas the BJS reports a more than 60% plunge during the same period. Property crime, which includes burglary and theft, has also declined.