10 Murder Capitals Of Iowa For 2020

These are the places in Iowa where people were killed most often, according to the latest FBI numbers.

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Do you live in one of the murder capitals of Iowa?

We all watch the news with horror when we hear about a homicide that happens not that far away from us. While a murder just blocks or even a couple of towns away from your house would make anyone uneasy, in the long run, most likely, where you live is relatively safe.

So we wanted to get the facts straight and dug into the FBI crime data in order to identify the places with the most murders and the highest murder rates per capita in Iowa.

The result is the Murder Capitals of the Hawkeye State for 2020:

  1. Des Moines (Photos)
  2. Davenport (Photos)
  3. Pleasant Hill (Photos)
  4. Mason City (Photos)
  5. Waterloo (Photos)
  6. Indianola (Photos)
  7. Cedar Rapids (Photos)
  8. Iowa City (Photos)
  9. Burlington (Photos)
  10. Maquoketa (Photos)

The city with highest murder rate in Iowa? That would be Pleasant Hill with 20.2 murders per 100,000 people.

While the city with highest number of murders period? Des Moines with 28.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. There were ‘only’ 20 cities in Iowa where a city reported a murder to the FBI, meaning 52 places had no murder.

For more reading on the Hawkeye State check out:

The 10 Murder Capitals Of Iowa For 2020

Des Moines, IA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 217,277
Rank Last Year: 5
Murders: 28 (1st Most)
Murders Per 100k: 12.9 (4th Most)
More on Des Moines:  Data | Photos

Des Moines is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Iowa. It is also the county seat of Polk County. A small part of the city extends into Warren County. It was incorporated on September 22, 1851, as Fort Des Moines, which was shortened to “Des Moines” in 1857. It is on and named after the Des Moines River, which likely was adapted from the French colonial name, Rivire des Moines, meaning “River of the Monks”. The city’s population was 203,433 as of the 2010 census. The five-county metropolitan area is ranked 89th in terms of population in the United States with 634,725 residents according to the 2016 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.

Davenport, IA

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Population: 103,063
Rank Last Year: 3
Murders: 13 (2nd Most)
Murders Per 100k: 12.6 (5th Most)
More on Davenport:  Data | Photos

Davenport is the county seat of Scott County in Iowa and is located along the Mississippi River on the eastern border of the state. It is the largest of the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area with a population estimate of 382,630 and a CSA population of 474,226; it is the 90th largest CSA in the nation. Davenport was founded on May 14, 1836 by Antoine Le Claire and was named for his friend, George Davenport, a colonel who was stationed at nearby Fort Armstrong during the Black Hawk War. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 99,685. The city appealed this figure, arguing that the Census Bureau missed a section of residents, and that its total population was more than 100,000. The Census Bureau estimated Davenport’s 2011 population to be 100,802.

Pleasant Hill, IA

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Population: 9,910
Rank Last Year: 26
Murders: 2 (9th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 20.2 (1st Most)
More on Pleasant Hill:  Data | Photos

Pleasant Hill is a city in Polk County, Iowa, United States. The population was 8,785 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of July, 2005, Pleasant Hill has been given a US Postal code, 50327.

Mason City, IA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 27,327
Rank Last Year: 37
Murders: 3 (6th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 11.0 (7th Most)
More on Mason City:  Data | Photos

Mason City is a city in and the county seat of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, United States. The population was 28,079 in the 2010 census, a decline from 29,172 in the 2000 census. The Mason City Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Cerro Gordo and Worth counties. It is commonly referred to as the “River City”, as the city grew up centered on the Winnebago River.

Waterloo, IA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 67,855
Rank Last Year: 15
Murders: 5 (4th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 7.4 (10th Most)
More on Waterloo:  Data | Photos

Waterloo is a city in and the county seat of Black Hawk County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census the population decreased by 0.5% to 68,406; the 2014 Census estimates the population at 68,364, making it the sixth-largest city in the state. The city is part of the Waterloo – Cedar Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is the more populous of the two cities.

Indianola, IA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 15,953
Rank Last Year: 17
Murders: 2 (9th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 12.5 (6th Most)
More on Indianola:  Data | Photos

Indianola is a city in Warren County, Iowa, United States, 18 miles south of Des Moines, Iowa. The population was 14,782 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Warren County.

Cedar Rapids, IA

Source: Public domain

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Population: 131,878
Rank Last Year: 20
Murders: 6 (3rd Most)
Murders Per 100k: 4.5 (13th Most)
More on Cedar Rapids:  Data | Photos

Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa and is the county seat of Linn County. The city lies on both banks of the Cedar River, 20 miles north of Iowa City and 100 miles northeast of Des Moines, the state’s capital and largest city. It is a part of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor of Linn, Benton, Cedar, Jones, Johnson, and Washington counties. Until massive flooding in 2008, the city’s government was headquartered in the Veterans Memorial Building, near the Linn County Courthouse and jail on Mays Island in the Cedar River; Cedar Rapids was one of a few cities in the world, along with Paris, France, with governmental offices on a municipal island.

Iowa City, IA

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Population: 75,519
Rank Last Year: 35
Murders: 4 (5th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 5.3 (11th Most)
More on Iowa City:  Data | Photos

Iowa City is a city in Johnson County, Iowa, United States. It is the home of the University of Iowa and county seat of Johnson County, at the center of the Iowa City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city’s population at 74,398 in 2016, making it the state’s fifth-largest city. Iowa City is the county seat of Johnson County. The metropolitan area, which encompasses Johnson and Washington counties, has a population of over 164,000.

Burlington, IA

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Population: 25,227
Rank Last Year: 4
Murders: 2 (9th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 7.9 (9th Most)
More on Burlington:  Data | Photos

Burlington is a city and the county seat of Des Moines County, Iowa, United States. The population was 25,663 in the 2010 census, a decline from the 26,839 population in the 2000 census. Burlington is the center of a micropolitan area including West Burlington, Iowa, and Middletown, Iowa, and Gulfport, Illinois. Burlington is the home of Snake Alley, once labelled the crookedest alley in the world.

Maquoketa, IA

Source: Public domain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,954
Rank Last Year: 28
Murders: 1 (16th Most)
Murders Per 100k: 16.8 (2nd Most)
More on Maquoketa:  Data | Photos

Maquoketa is a city in Jackson county in the U.S. state of Iowa. Located on the Maquoketa River, it is the county seat of Jackson County.

How we calculated the murder capitals of Iowa

While there are surveys and public polls on what cities in a state are the most dangerous, we didn’t want to rely on speculation and opinion. Instead, we looked at the hard numbers from the FBI’s last year of reporting. Specifically, we analyzed the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report which summarizes the number of murders that may happen in each city per year.

We only looked every single city in Iowa for which FBI data was available for the most recent FBI Crime In The United States. That left us with 20 cities to rank.

Finally, we averaged the two scores into an index:

  • The raw number of murders in each city
  • The murders per person

We felt as if a small place with 2,500 people and two murders makes it a lot more dangerous than a city of 25,000 people with three murders. Any ties went to the larger city. You can download the data here.

We must note that this report is not an analysis of the effectiveness of local police departments. It simply states where murders occurred most frequently on an absolute and rate basis.

There You Have It – The Places With The Most Murders In Iowa For 2020

If you’re looking at the places in Iowa with the most murders, and where residents have the highest chances of being killed themselves, this is an accurate list. Again, these statistics are an indication of where crimes occur, not a statement about the effectiveness of the law enforcement in the areas they serve.

For more iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Places With The Most Murder In Iowa For 2020

Rank City Murders Murders/100K
1 Des Moines, IA 28.0 12.89
2 Davenport, IA 13.0 12.61
3 Pleasant Hill, IA 2.0 20.18
4 Mason City, IA 3.0 10.98
5 Waterloo, IA 5.0 7.37
6 Indianola, IA 2.0 12.54
7 Cedar Rapids, IA 6.0 4.55
8 Iowa City, IA 4.0 5.3
9 Burlington, IA 2.0 7.93
10 Maquoketa, IA 1.0 16.8
11 Charles City, IA 1.0 13.47
12 Dubuque, IA 2.0 3.41
13 Keokuk, IA 1.0 9.64
14 Sioux City, IA 2.0 2.41
15 Johnston, IA 1.0 4.58
16 Fort Dodge, IA 1.0 4.11
17 Marion, IA 1.0 2.56
18 Cedar Falls, IA 1.0 2.4
19 Council Bluffs, IA 1.0 1.6
20 Ames, IA 1.0 1.48

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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