When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 1998 Homicide Data
Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents
Section One: National Data
When Men Murder Women offers both national and state-by-state statistics from FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data including charts listing the number and rate of female homicides by state and a chart ranking each state by rate. For the top 15 states, data are broken out by: age and race of victim; type of weapon used; relationship of victim to offender; and, the circumstances of the murder. General findings are summarized below. More detailed data on each of the 15 states can be found in Appendix Two.
In 1998 the homicide rate among female victims murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in the United States was 1.40 per 100,000. For that year, South Carolina ranked first as the state with the highest homicide rate among female victims by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents. Its rate of 3.12 per 100,000 was more than twice the national average. South Carolina was followed by Louisiana (2.69 per 100,000) and Arkansas (2.67 per 100,000). The remaining states that make up the top 15 can be found in Chart One on the following page. For a ranking of all states that submitted data to the FBI, please see Appendix One.
In single female victim/single male offender homicides reported for 1998, 10 percent of the victims were less than 18 years old (184 victims) and nine percent were 65 years of age or older (161 victims). The average age of female homicide victims was 36 years old. Female homicides in which race was identified (1,914 victims) included: 1,204 white females, 659 black females, 30 Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 21 American Indian or Alaskan natives. Ninety-one percent (1,718 out of 1,894) of the homicides where the race of the female victim and male offender were known were intra-racial.1 Overall, black women (3.64 per 100,000) were murdered at a rate more than three times higher than white women (1.06 per 100,000). Unfortunately, Hispanic ethnicity could not be determined on a national level because of the inadequacy of data collection and reporting. Of the 47 states reporting, only five states met the criteria of having at least one Hispanic female homicide victim and having at least 70 percent of female victims coded as Hispanic or non-Hispanic ethnicity.2 Information regarding the five states is offered in Section Three.
The relationship of victim to offender differs significantly between male and female victims of homicide. Compared to a man, a woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. More than 12 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,699 victims) than were killed by male strangers (138 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998.3 Of victims who knew their offenders, 60 percent (1,016 out of 1,699) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.
Firearms�especially handguns�were the most common weapons used by males to murder females in 1998. For homicides in which the weapon could be identified, 54 percent of female victims (978 out of 1,825) were shot and killed with guns�more than 60 percent by male intimates. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (611 victims) was more than four times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (138 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998. In homicides where males used firearms to kill females, handguns were clearly the weapon of choice over rifles and shotguns. In 1998, 77 percent of female firearm homicide victims (751 out of 978) were killed with handguns.
The overwhelming majority of homicides among females by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998 were not related to any other felony crime. Most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument�usually with a firearm. In 1998 there were 1,645 incidents in which the circumstance of the homicide between the female victim and male offender in single victim/single offender incidents could be identified. Of these, 87 percent (1,429 out of 1,645) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
Of the non-felony homicides, 69 percent (987 out of 1,429) involved arguments between the female victim and male offender and 55 percent (545 out of 987) of those homicides involved guns. According to the Supplementary Homicide Report data, in 1998 there were 410 women shot and killed by their husbands or intimate acquaintances in single victim/single offender incidents during the course of an argument�more than one such murder every day of the year.
The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.
All contents � 2000 Violence Policy Center