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Most Memphis murders are not random, they're the result of arguments

MPD Lt. Tony Mullins asks people to walk away from disputes instead of killing each other.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There have been a total of 218 homicides this year in Memphis as of September 17, 2021. In the past 7 days, there have been nearly a dozen murders in the city. Investigators believe Memphis is on track to have another record year when it comes to murder. 

Memphis Police Homicide investigators are beyond busy.

"When the numbers go up it adds to your stress and exhaustion level but it’s kind of something we get used to and we just keep working through it and just keep pushing through it," said Lt. Tony Mullins, Memphis Police Department.

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Mullins has spent more than 15 years working as a homicide investigator and supervisor. He was an investigator when the documentary show "First 48" was filming in Memphis. It showed a behind-the-scenes look at how detectives identify and developed suspects.

Mullins said that when it comes to murders in Memphis, not much has changed. Random murders are rare, Mullins says, most victims know their murderer in one way or another.

"Domestics, gang activity, drug activity, robberies these things don’t really change. Homicide is a crime of passion most of the time. And we do have homicides that happen randomly like robbery or burglary, but most of the time it’s people that know each other. No one can push your buttons like the people that know you," said Mullins.

A check of the Memphis "Data Hub" shows murders happen in nearly every part of the city. Data Hub documents revealed that Memphis Police investigated more than 1,500 murders in a 10 year span.

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Mullins said that last spring, the department increased the number of homicide investigators by a third to keep with demand.

MPD's clearance rate is sitting at 65 percent, which is still slightly higher than the national average.

"It takes longer maybe to get a case solved than it used to because we don’t have the manpower to throw at it and it happens too fast," said Mullins

Mullins said it's hard to pinpoint one reason the murder rate is rising but adds arguments or disputes are often at the center of it. His advice, instead of arguing with someone, just walk away.

 "Is it worth losing your life? Or going to prison for the rest of your life? Is it that important of a situation or is it something you walk away from," said Mullins.

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