When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 1996 Homicide Data

Data on female homicide1 in the United States were obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) collects basic information on serious crimes from participating police agencies and records supplemental information about the circumstances of homicides in its unpublished Supplemental Homicide Report (SHR). Submitted monthly, supplemental data consist of the age, sex, and race of both victims and offenders; the types of weapons used; the relationship of victims to offenders; and the circumstances of the murders. Data for this report were downloaded from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research2 (ICPSR) website at www.icpsr.umich.edu/index.html.

Analysis of 1996 female homicides was limited to cases involving one female victim and one male offender. This analysis excludes all female homicide cases that counted more than one victim or offender, and all female homicide cases involving single female offenders. The rationale for this method of analysis is that supplemental data on weapon used, relationship of victim to offender, and circumstance provided by the UCR Program are only reported for the first recorded victim and offender – such data are not reported for additional victims and/or offenders. The supplemental data provided on additional victims and offenders are limited to age, race, and sex. If a multiple victim and/or offender case involved more than one type of relationship (e.g. a wife and children); more than one type of weapon (e.g. knife or other cutting instrument and a firearm); or more than one circumstance (e.g. rape and other, non-felony circumstance) this information is not recorded.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, supplemental data are provided on only a subset of homicide cases. Additionally, SHR data are updated throughout the year as homicide reports are forwarded by state UCR programs. There are also variations in reporting rates by state, and estimates are frequently done on this data to account for these variations. When Men Murder Women is based on reported cases only. No estimates were computed for this analysis. Therefore, some states may be under-reported.

1) According to the FBI, there are two types of classifiable homicide: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter; and manslaughter by negligence. According to the FBI’s Crime in the United States 1996, the UCR Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as “the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another.” Not included in the count for this offense classification are deaths caused by negligence; suicide; accident; traffic fatalities; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are considered aggravated assaults. Manslaughter by negligence is defined as “the killing of another person through gross negligence.” Not included in the count for this offense are deaths of persons due to their own negligence; accidental deaths not resulting from gross negligence; and traffic fatalities. In 1996 there were only 50 females murdered by males in single victim/single offender homicides that were classified as manslaughter by negligence – most involving firearms – out of a total of 2,129 homicides. The circumstances of these 50 incidents included: one victim shot in a hunting accident; three gun-cleaning deaths; nine killed by children playing with a gun; 21 killed in other negligent incidents involving the handling of a gun which resulted in the death of another; and 16 other incidents of manslaughter by negligence except traffic deaths.

2) The ICPSR is located within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and is “a membership-based, not-for-profit organization serving member colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.”


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