This City Has Been Named the Murder Capital of North Carolina

Even though North Carolina has a lot of history and culture, it also has problems with crime and violence. A website that rates security products called SafeWise says that the city of Henderson in Vance County, which is about 40 miles north of Raleigh, has the highest murder rate per person in the state and is known as “North Carolina’s murder capital.” This piece goes into great detail about the reasons behind Henderson’s violence and how it has a huge effect on the people who live there.

Why Safewise Ranks Murder Capitals the Way It Does

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the U.S. Census Bureau give SafeWise the information it needs to make its lists of the most murder-prone towns in the U.S. To do this, they figure out the murder rate per 100,000 people in each place and then put them in order from highest to lowest.

Cities with at least 5,000 people and full crime records sent to the FBI are included in this analysis. SafeWise’s description of murder only includes when someone kills someone else on purpose, leaving out manslaughter, which is when someone kills someone without meaning to or planning to.

The Things That Make Henderson Stand Out as North Carolina’s Murder Capital

About 15,000 people live in Henderson, which is a small town. The city was founded in 1841 and named for Leonard Henderson, who was the top justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. It used to be a hub for making tobacco and textiles, but after the Great Depression and World War II, it lost some of its popularity.

Henderson has a murder rate that is much higher than the national average and the murder rates of other North Carolina towns. SafeWise says that there were 10 killings in Henderson in 2020, which is 67.6 murders for every 100,000 people who lived there. The murder rate in North Carolina was 8.9 per 100,000 people, while the rate across the country was 6.2 per 100,000 people.

Henderson’s High Death Rate Could Be Caused by a Number of Things, Including:

Social and economic problems: There are 30.9% of people in Henderson who are poor, which is more than twice the state average of 14.3% and three times the national average of 12.3%. People who live in areas with a lot of poverty may feel lost, angry, and depressed, which can lead to more violence and crime.

As of 2010, 59% of Henderson’s residents were Black, and 13% were Hispanic. This means that there is a lot of racial tension and discrimination in the city. A study from Case Western Reserve University says that these areas have been subject to systemic racism and oppression for many years. This is one reason why the city has a low ranking for racial equity in income, education, health, housing, and justice. Inequality based on race can make people resentful, angry, and suspicious, which can lead to violence and crime.

A Culture of Violence and Impunity: Henderson is known as a dangerous and violent place where gangs, drugs, and guns are common. The U.S. Department of Justice said that there was a lot of serious crime in Henderson. There were 1,590 crimes for every 100,000 people, which is more than four times the state average of 372 and the national average of 367. People who live in areas with a lot of violence may feel afraid and unsafe, which can slow down social and economic growth. Henderson also has a low homicide clearance rate (38%), which means that many killers get away without being caught and charged. A low clearance rate can hurt the rule of law and make crime and bloodshed more likely to happen.

Possible Ways to Lower the Death Rate in Henderson

Henderson is not doomed to always be North Carolina’s murder capital. There are things that can be done to lower the death rate and make life better for the people who live there:

Boosting Financial Opportunities and Social Services: Henderson can put more money into its schools, job market, health care, housing, and public transportation to make them stronger. By making these places bigger, chances and benefits can be given to people, especially those with low incomes or who are on the outside. These kinds of efforts can help reduce poverty, even out inequality, lower stress, and improve people’s general health and happiness.

Promoting fairness and peace between races: It is important to put in place policies and programs that try to deal with the causes and effects of racial discrimination and oppression. Important parts of this method are changing the criminal justice system, improving community policing, helping civil rights groups, encouraging groups from different backgrounds to talk to each other and work together, recognizing and celebrating cultural diversity, and teaching about racial issues.

Violence Prevention and Accountability: Henderson can use tactics that stop violent acts before they happen and bring criminals to justice in order to stop violence and make sure that people are held accountable. Key steps in this direction include stricter prosecution of murderers within the law, offering training in conflict resolution, increasing mental health services, strengthening witness protection programs, making forensic technology better, and improving services for victims.


Based on federal data, SafeWise’s research shows that Henderson is North Carolina’s murder capital, which is not a title anyone wants. A lack of economic prospects, racial tensions in the past, and a violent culture are all linked to the high murder rate. Henderson could become a safer and wealthier city in the future if people work together to improve social services and economic prospects, support racial justice and peace, and put in place measures to stop violence and hold people accountable.

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