Murders in Lawrence this decade
• Year — Murders
• 2000 — 0
• 2001 — 1
• 2002 — 2
• 2003 — 3
• 2004 — 2
• 2005 — 5
• 2006 — 2
• 2007 — 0
• 2008 — 4
• 2009 — 0
On Feb. 1, 2008, Jerry Deshazer bled to death at his southeastern Lawrence home after being struck in the head. Deshazer’s death would be the first of four murders in Lawrence in 2008. In June, two men — Greg Hauk, 18, and Roland Klundt, 20 — were shot and killed during a robbery, and in July, Kansas University student Jana Mackey was found murdered in her former boyfriend’s home in Lawrence.
But in 2009, the area was spared such crimes, as the year ended with no murders in either Lawrence or Douglas County.
“Any year you go without such a crime is a great thing,” said Lawrence Mayor Rob Chestnut. “We want that trend to continue.”
2009 is one of only three years in the past decade during which no murders have occurred in the city, according to statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Overall, the decade saw 19 deaths classified as murder, which includes first- and second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The year with the most murders was 2005, with five overall, including the deaths of three people in October during an arson fire at Boardwalk Apartments.
While local law enforcement can breathe a sigh of relief, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said such crimes are difficult to predict or prevent.
“Obviously we are pleased,” he said. “But we know we have little control over when these events happen.”
Kenna Quinet, a criminal justice professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis who studies homicide trends, urged caution in interpreting murder statistics in a smaller city like Lawrence.
“This is great news, but given those really small numbers, I wouldn’t draw any conclusions,” she said, adding that it takes four or five years in increases or decreases to identify a trend.
Lower than national rate
Lawrence’s overall murder rate for the decade, which the FBI tabulates per 100,000 residents, is about half that of cities of comparable size. Between 2006 and 2008, the national murder rate for cities between 50,000 and 99,000 residents was about five murders per 100,000 people, but in the same time frame, Lawrence’s rate was sightly above two.
Murders across the country are on the decline and dropped 10 percent between the first six months of 2008 and 2009, according to preliminary statistics from the FBI.
And while Lawrence hasn’t seen a murder in more than a year, other Kansas cities haven’t been as fortunate.
While Topeka saw a drop from five to three murders in the first six months of 2009 compared with 2008, both Wichita and Kansas City saw increases. Murders in Wichita increased from eight to 12, and in Kansas City from 13 to 22 for the same period.