FAYETTEVILLE – In less than a week, there have been three separate murders in Fayetteville after nearly two months without a murder. Two of the murders happened within hours of each other over the weekend and the third happened early Tuesday morning.
Fayetteville police officials say two of this weeks murders have been solved and two suspects are in police custody. The third murder is currently under investigation.
Officials say that it is to early to call it a crime trend. When it comes to crime, experts say what separates a crime trend from a mere coincidence is the root cause of the crime.
"The thing with murders is they are just so sporadic,” said Sergeant John Somerindyke with the Fayetteville Police Department. “They are a result of a robbery gone bad, a burglary gone bad, an altercation or argument went further than it intended to go."
Detectives with the police department prefer to compare crime during a specific time frame with the same time frame over the past years.
"Generally, during the same months, you have some of the same things going on as far as with holidays, summer vacations with kids being in or out of school or things of that nature," said Somerindyke.
For the first month of January in Fayetteville, there were two murders. A year earlier, there were none. But when you go back further, there were three murders in 2009. In 2008, there were two, 2007 there was one and in 2006 there were five.
Because the number of murders tend to be small during any given time period, any murder can dramatically affect the murder rate in a community.
"In percentages, of course, that is a big jump,” said Michael DeValve Ph.D, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Fayetteville State University. “But in terms of the actual count, a couple of homicides either way could change dramatically."
Experts say it is important to not jump to conclusions based solely on crime statistics. You need to also consider other factors that influence crime like economics, societal issues, and national crime rates to name just a few.
"From a statistical perspective, you need to have more than a couple of digits to get any really meaningful. You can't talk about that in terms of a trend," said DeValve.
To truly understand if there is a crime trend, experts believe you have to take a step back, consider all the factors, and in the end only time will tell.