Crime data released Wednesday by Lexington police showed an increase in murders for 2013, but other serious crimes in the city decreased by 8 percent overall.
The figures show that there were 19 murders in Lexington during 2013, up from 14 in 2012.
Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said murders typically stem from illegal activity, high risk behavior, domestic violence or people who know each other.
"Random murders are something we don't see in Lexington on a normal basis," she said. "And if you go back through all of the 2013 murders they fall into one of those categories. Those are variables that cannot be controlled externally."
The department ended 2013 with all 19 murders solved. Roberts said the public was a "primary factor," in helping the Robbery/Homicide Unit solve many of those crimes.
The spike in murders falls short of the city's highest total of about 27 in the early 2000s. Roberts said in the last four years the city has averaged between 14 and 21 murders a year.
There have been three killings in 2014:
■ Alex Johnson, who went missing Dec. 20.
■ Glen Sanford, 54, who was found shot in the chest in his home Feb. 3.
■ Vincenzio Q. Happy, 23, who was found shot in the parking lot of a strip mall on Lima Drive.
All other serious crimes, defined as Part I crimes, declined last year.
The FBI defines the categories. Part II crimes include manslaughter, other types of assaults, forgery and counterfeiting, fraud, embezzlement, vandalism, and sex offenses. Simple assaults were down .3 percent, forgery and counterfeiting fell 22.5 percent, fraud dropped 6.9 percent, and embezzlement dropped 16.7 percent.
Crime trends — the increases and decreases year to year — are difficult to pinpoint and can fluctuate because of a number of variables such as the economy, citizen involvement and proactive measures, Roberts said.
"As much as the Division of Police would like to take credit for the decline in the numbers of reported crime, we cannot," Roberts said.
That said, the increase in murders doesn't negate the fact that Lexington is a safe city, Roberts said. Lexington "continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family," she said.
Herald-Leader reporter Jim Warren contributed to this story. Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety