About the project
The St. Louis region faces an epidemic of murder. The number of killings across St. Louis city and county reached record levels in 2020, after steadily rising each year since 2014.
To address this worsening crisis, the Post-Dispatch created the Homicide Tracker to memorialize victims and to collect comprehensive information about killings across the region.
In previous years, the Post-Dispatch maintained annual maps of St. Louis-area homicides, sourced from Post-Dispatch reporting. Our new Homicide Tracker expands on those earlier efforts by adding victim profiles, more granular details about incidents, and context about trends over time.
Each homicide victim is added to our database by a Post-Dispatch reporter or editor. Victim profiles and incident details are usually derived from Post-Dispatch stories and briefs.
The primary sources for information on homicides are police departments and medical examiners. As often as possible, reporters seek family, friends or witnesses who can add details or say more about the victims.
The Post-Dispatch tracks the following details about each homicide:
- Biographical details about the victim
- Names and ages of any charged suspects
- The date of the homicide
- The street block where the homicide occurred*
- Geographic coordinates where the homicide occurred*
- The type of killing
- Whether a homicide involved abuse or neglect
- Whether police later classified the killing as "justified"
- Whether the incident involved a police use of force
* Sometimes street blocks or coordinates are estimates.
On the Places page, we provide bar charts showing annual homicide totals for each county. This data comes from the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Illinois State Police. The totals shown in these charts reflect the number of reported homicides as recorded by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program.
Note about bar charts
Homicides that occur in an Illinois city that straddles multiple counties will be included in the totals for each of its parent counties.
Coverage and timeliness
The Post-Dispatch updates the Homicide Tracker weekly with new data.
Because the data is recorded manually by Post-Dispatch staff, occasionally it may take additional time for an incident to appear in the Homicide Tracker. Some incidents may not be included until a suspect has been arrested or charged.
When police count homicides, they use a specific definition, but most people have a broader understanding of the term. This Homicide Tracker includes any intentional killing of one person by another, including those that police later classify "justifiable" — such as a person shooting an intruder in their home in self-defense.
We include killings from St. Louis city and 15 surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois.
We classify all victims under the age of 18 as children.
Though we strive to make the Homicide Tracker as comprehensive as possible, it may not include all incidents of homicide. Totals shown in this app should be considered undercounts.
Because we may be missing gender, name or age for some victims, the victim subtotals shown for men, women, and children on the homepage and the Places page usually will not add up to match the overall victim total.
- Not all killings are reported quickly to the police by the public. Some are reported months or even years after they happen.
- Police may not know (or may withhold) details about a given incident. Police generally do not identify victims until next of kin are notified.
- Police departments sometimes fail to notify news outlets of homicides. If you know a homicide occurred but do not see it here, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This app was originally published Jan. 9, 2022.
Data reporter Janelle O'Dea and newsroom developer Josh Renaud programmed this app. They built on work by former developer Andrew Nguyen. Former editors Amanda St. Amand and David Warren contributed to this project.