Number of homicides in rural Alberta double in 2015

There is no clear explanation for a violent spike in the number of homicides in rural Alberta, according to RCMP.

'There is no rhyme or reason that we can put our finger on at the moment,' said Cpl. Hal Turnbull

RCMP responded to 65 homicides in rural Alberta in 2015.

The number of homicides reported in rural Alberta doubled last year, but RCMP can't offer any clear explanation for why. 

"There is no rhyme or reason that we can put our finger on at the moment," said Cpl. Hal Turnbull.

"We're very concerned. I think one homicide is one too many, let alone the 65 we reported this year."

In 2015, Alberta RCMP responded to 65 homicides within its 112 rural jurisdictions, nearly double the 36 homicides reported in 2014.

Mounties say this is also much higher than the 10-year average of 40 homicides per year.

"Unfortunately, we cannot speculate on the reason for the increase. Homicide rates fluctuate from year to year.  We've, to date, identified no real trend to account for that rise and fall from year to year. "

The cases were concentrated around high population areas including Edmonton and Calgary, according to Turnbull, who says there is nothing to indicate the rise in crime is related to the economic downturn.

"We're alive to many issues that affect policing that come from job losses, but good times also bring policing challenges," said Turnbull.

"We've had years where we've seen economic boom in Alberta, and a rise in the homicide rate, if you're looking for a correlation … we can't corroborate that."

So far this year, six homicides have been reported in rural Alberta.

Although well-equipped to handle the caseload, Chief Supt. Gary Steinke, officer-in-charge of the Alberta RCMP Serious Crimes Branch says it's been a trying year for his staff.  

"Homicide cases take real commitment on the part of the employees involved. Last year, that saw them working longer hours - often away from home – under the saddest of circumstances – just to keep up."

According to Edmonton Police, there were 30 homicide victims in Edmonton in 2015.; 35 in 2014.