Murder: A Summer Trend for Tallahassee?

Some veteran investigators are convinced the when the mercury goes up, the number of murders in the capital city goes up too.

A college student is shot to death and dumped in a holding pond. Before detectives can make an arrest in that case, a woman is beaten with a brick and has her throat slashed. Homicide detectives say summer murders seem to be a trend in Tallahassee.

SGT Jeff Johnson of the Tallahassee Police Department says, "Kinda rough because it's a time when our kids are out of school and we want to take vacation, and it turns out we're extremely busy going from one case to the next."

Last year eight of Tallahassee's 12 murders happened between May and September; that's two thirds. This year it's two out of four.

Veteran homicide INV Jeff Johnson can only surmise why murder seems to rise along with the mercury.

SGT Jeff Johnson with TPD says, "I think that it's just that you have more opportunities for interaction when the weather is warmer, and with that interaction and alcohol or some other intoxicants things can go downhill."

FSU criminology professor Dr. Gary Kleck says historically there is an increase in murder along with the increase in temperatures, but says he'd be surprised to see a repeat of last year's surge in summer murders.

Dr. Gary Kleck says, "Simply because three or four more people decided they were angry enough to kill somebody during those months doesn't indicate there's any long-term trend. Come back in two or three years, and hey if two thirds of the homicides are still occurring in the summer months, I'll have to eat my words, but I doubt it."

The FBI's latest crime report bears out higher summer murder rates nationwide. Dr. Kleck believes it has less to do with heat and more to do with unstructured summer lifestyles when people don't have to conform to social standards and schedules at work or at school.