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The Northwest Florida Daily News is reporting on the rash of homicides that have occurred in Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa County this year, with the newspaper reporting that the city of 21,000 people is nearing the rankings of the “Murder Capitals of America for 2015,” according to neighborhoodscout.com.

This year an unprecedented spike in the number of homicides has, statistically at any rate, placed both the city and Okaloosa County smack dab in the middle of that very conversation.

There have been eight confirmed homicides in Okaloosa County this year, with four of them occurring in Fort Walton Beach. 

But city numbers could easily grow by two, “based on how certain decisions are made” by forensics experts examining evidence in death cases still under investigation, according to Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Ted Litschauer.

Despite a spike in what officials declare “random” homicides in 2015, the overall long-term crime and murder rates in these communities is far below the state and national averages. In fact, Okaloosa County’s murder rate over the past decade is just one-third the state average.

Over the last 10 years, the murder rate in Fort Walton Beach averaged 4.2 per 100,000 people and in Okaloosa County it averaged 1.8 per 100,000 people. In the same period, Florida’s murder rate was 5.5. For the U.S., it was 5.1 for every 100,000 people.

“Each of the homicides has involved family relationships and/or illicit drugs,” said Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Ted Litschauer. Litschauer and local officials aren’t convinced the area has become a dangerous place to live and he added he’s confident that this year’s homicide numbers are an anomaly.

As we reported last month, Fort Walton Beach was rated among the “Top 100 Small Towns in America” for 2015, based, in part, on low crime rates over a long-term period.


Mapping the Murders

Murder by the numbers

Fort Walton Beach
YearNo.By Firearm
20154*4*
201400
201322
201211
201130
201011
200910
200800
200700
200610
200510
200400

* There are two fatalities still being investigated that could result in a determination of homicide.

Okaloosa County
Population 190,666
YearNo.By Firearm
201588
201430
201343
201221
201141
201033
200953
200831
200741
200651
200531
200431

 

Bay County
Population 170,781
YearNo.By Firearm
2015106
20141715
201386
201295
2011127
2010129
200994
2008115
200785
200653
200542
Walton County
Population 59,793
YearNo.By Firearm
201500
201400
201330
201211
201132
201020
200955
200811
200700
200620
200532
200433
Santa Rosa County
Population 159,785
YearNo.By Firearm
201511
201454
201331
201200
201121
201065
200900
200821
200741
200630
200521
200450
Escambia County
Population 303,907
YearNo.By Firearm
20151711
20142114
20132619
20122218
20111610
20102916
20091814
20082218
20072011
2006113
2005103
2004194
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