This City Has Been Named the Murder Capital of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a state characterized by its diverse population, culture, and economy. However, it grapples with a significant issue of crime, particularly violent crime. In 2020, the FBI reported a violent crime rate of 297.5 per 100,000 population and a murder rate of 5.8 per 100,000 population in the state—both exceeding national averages. The extent of crime varies across the state, with certain cities, like Chester, experiencing more profound impacts.

The Murder Capital of Pennsylvania: Chester

Chester, situated in Delaware County near Philadelphia, has earned the designation of the murder capital of Pennsylvania for 2023, according to crime data analysis by RoadSnacks. This designation is based on factors such as the number and rate of murders per capita, considering additional elements like population, poverty levels, unemployment rates, and education. In 2020, Chester reported 27 murders, the highest in the state, with a murder rate of 79.6 per 100,000 population, ranking second only to Wilkinsburg.

Chester’s Profile

Chester, founded in the 17th century by Swedish settlers, boasts a rich history marked by prosperity and industry. Once a thriving center for shipbuilding, manufacturing, and trade, Chester has witnessed a decline since the mid-20th century. Factors contributing to this decline include the loss of industries, jobs, and population, leading to social and economic challenges such as poverty, crime, and corruption.

Factors Contributing to Chester’s Status

Location: Chester’s location in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, along major highways like I-95 and I-476, facilitates the movement of people, goods, and unfortunately, illegal substances and weapons. Surrounding cities like Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Media may also impact crime dynamics in Chester.

Population: With a population of 33,905 and a racial composition of 69.7% black, 17.9% white, and 9.9% Hispanic or Latino, Chester faces challenges associated with a young population (median age of 31.4) and a poverty rate of 35.9%.

Economy: Dependent on sectors such as education, healthcare, government, and entertainment, Chester’s economy struggles with a low median household income of $30,571 and an unemployment rate of 10.9%.

Historical and Cultural Influences: Chester’s long and complex history, marked by industrialization, deindustrialization, immigration, and more, has influenced the city’s identity. Its vibrant arts, entertainment, food, and sports scenes contribute to both the quality of life and exposure to crime.

Crime Statistics: Chester’s crime rates in 2020, as reported by the FBI, are alarming, with violent crime at 2,146.9 per 100,000 population and property crime at 4,253.7 per 100,000 population—far surpassing state and national averages. The Chester Police Department recorded 27 homicides, 64 rapes, 163 robberies, 381 aggravated assaults, 1,011 burglaries, 1,190 thefts, and 403 motor vehicle thefts in the same year, many linked to drugs and gangs.


While this overview sheds light on Chester’s designation as the murder capital of Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to recognize the complexity of the factors at play. More research and analysis are necessary to understand and address the city’s multifaceted crime crisis.

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