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 the states by rate. For the top 15 states, data are broken down by: age, race, and ethnicity of victim; the type of weapon used; the relationship of victim to offender; and the circumstances of the murder. General findings of the research are summarized below. More detailed data on each of the 15 states can be found in Appendix Two.
State Rankings 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. Louisiana ranked first as the state with the highest homicide rate among female victims by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents (3.94 per 100,000) – almost three times the national average. Louisiana was followed by Nevada (3.03 per 100,000) and Arkansas (2.84 per 100,000). There were no female homicides by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents reported in New Hampshire or in Kansas for 1997. For a ranking of all states that submitted data to the FBI, please see Appendix One.
Number of Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Homicides and Rates by State, 1997, Ranked by Rate
|Number of Homicides||Homicide Rate per 100,000|
|.||Rates have been rounded to two decimal places. In the case of a tie, the rate has been carried out to another decimal place. Thus, Colorado is ranked 14th with a rate of 1.833 and New Mexico is ranked 15th with a rate of 1.827|
Age and Race of Female Homicide Victims
In single female victim/single male offender homicides reported for 1997, 10 percent of the victims were less than 18 years old (190 victims) and eight percent were 65 years of age or older (154 victims). Female homicides in which race was identified (1,901 victims) included: 1,140 white females (of which 140 were designated as being of Hispanic ethnicity), 693 black females, 51 Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 17 American Indian or Alaskan natives. Besides white, none of the other racial categories included women who were designated as being of Hispanic ethnicity. Overall, black women (3.88 per 100,000) were victimized at a rate nearly four times greater than that of white women (1.01 per 100,000).
Victim to Offender Relationship
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 (1,689 victims) than were killed by male strangers (137 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1997.5 Of victims who knew their offenders (1,689 victims), more than half (969 victims or 57 percent) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.
Female Homicide Victims and Weapons
Firearms especially handguns were the most common weapons used by males to murder females in 1997. In cases in which the weapon used in the homicide could be identified (1,830 cases), more than half of all female homicide victims (1,000 victims or 55 percent) were shot and killed with guns nearly 60 percent by male intimates. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (594 victims) was more than four times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (137 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1997.
In cases where males used firearms to kill females, handguns were clearly the weapon of choice over rifles and shotguns. In 1997 three quarters of female firearm homicide victims (754 of 1,000 victims or 75 percent) were killed with handguns.
Female Homicide Victims and Circumstance
The overwhelming majority of homicides among females by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents in 1997 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 1997 there were 1,592 cases 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 1,592 cases, 85 percent (1,355 cases) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
More than two thirds of those cases with circumstances not involving a felony (938 cases or 69 percent) involved arguments between the female victim and male offender and 551 females (59 percent) were shot and killed with guns during those arguments. According to the Supplementary Homicide Report data, in 1997 there were 393 women shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance in single victim/single offender incidents during the course of an argument more than one woman murdered every day of the year.
5) These are cases in which the relationship between the victim and the offender could be identified. According to the FBI’s 1997 Supplementary Homicide Report data on females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents, the relationship of victim to offender could be determined in 1,826 of 1,920 cases. In 94 cases the relationship of victim to offender was “unknown,” meaning the reporting police officer was unable to determine at the scene if the victim and offender knew each other or were strangers. According to the July 1992 Journal of Trauma study “Men, Women, and Murder: Gender-Specific Differences in Rates of Fatal Violence and Victimization,” local law enforcement agencies generally submit case reports early in the course of their investigation, sometimes before the identity of the offender is known. Although one might assume that most initially unsolved homicides would eventually be determined to have been committed by a stranger, follow-up data from one large metropolitan police jurisdiction (Los Angeles) suggest that a substantial number end up involving an acquaintance or relative of the victim.