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At 10:34: Another documentary took a look at Humboldt County and once again we were painted as a lawless murder capital. That’s not exactly true.

Most of us have seen “Murder Mountain,” but the newest documentary showing us in that light aired on the PBS station down in Los Angeles, hooking viewers near the beginning with an anonymous subject saying: “If you want to get away with murder, Humboldt County is the place to go.” [Side note, that documentary is about the Lawson case. This article is not an analysis of that case.]

Over the last decade from 2009 through 2018, 10 counties in the state had worse per capita homicide rates than Humboldt County, according to data from the California Department of Justice. That would be Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Merced, Monterey, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, and Tulare.

It is unfortunate being the 11th worst of 58 counties when it comes to homicide rates, but we certainly aren’t the worst. You can analyze the data here. Humboldt’s worst year in that decade was 2016 when we saw over 20 homicides. As of this posting, there have been six so far in 2019.

So what about Humboldt’s high rate of missing persons reports? Well, the county also has a very high rate of people that are found. For instance, last year there were 370 adult missing persons reports in Humboldt County. There were also 343 reports of adults that were found that year. It’s likely that our rural nature with a lot of spotty cell service is a huge contributor to these numbers. You can analyze that data here.

“We get a lot of (missing persons) reports that are easily resolved because the person returns, said Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Samantha Karges.

So what about getting away with murder in the courts? Since Humboldt County District Attorney, Maggie Fleming took office at the start of 2015, 92 percent of their homicide cases have resulted in a defendant being found guilty.

“We have tried 13 homicide cases since I took office in January 2015,” Fleming said. “Nine resulted in murder convictions, and those charged with special allegations -- for example torture, multiple victims, use of a firearm -- the jury also found true. One case included co-defendants in which the jury found one person guilty and the other not guilty of murder. Two cases we charged as murder yielded convictions on the lesser charge of manslaughter. Finally, we had a murder case that resulted in a hung jury in the first trial and a not guilty verdict when we re-tried it.”

Yes, bad things do happen in Humboldt County. There’s no denying that. Bodies are buried out there. Safety precautions are just as necessary today as they were yesterday. But while there’s no data that suggests we’re a utopian emerald paradise full of rainbows and butterflies, there’s also no data showing we’re a Norman Bates freakshow.

Could Humboldt County stand to have lower homicide rates? Absolutely. Would it be nice to have fewer reports of missing people? No doubt about it. But we’re definitely not a lawless murder capital. Stay prepared and stay safe, but take comfort in knowing this beautiful place may not be as bleak as some outsiders have shown it.

Introducing contributing host Andrew Goetz at 6:30: Andrew Goetz has local experience as a professional sports broadcaster. Here he’s delving into harder news. This week he looks into reported hate crimes at HSU, cannabis code enforcement, a crash at the gazebo in Old Town, and soccer playoffs.

Also in the new episode: Tony Hawk helps a Humboldt skatepark, teen surfers to the rescue, debate continues on the possible wind farm near Rio Dell, big news coming regarding industrial hemp in Humboldt, a legendary felled tree is coming back in multiples, and the locally-shot movie of the week, event suggestions for the week, and much more.

Humboldt Last Week episode 150 partners: Belle Starr Clothing, Northcoast Horticulture Supply, Bongo Boy Studio, Trinidad Vacation Rental, North Coast Journal, Photography by Shi, Redheaded Blackbelt, North Coast Journal, 99.1 KISS FM