When Men Murder Women (1998 Data): 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. 

State Rankings

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. 

Age and Race of Female Homicide Victims

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.

Chart One: Number of Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Homicides and Rates by State in 1998, Ranked by Rate



Number of Homicides Homicide Rate per 100,000
1 South Carolina 62 3.12
2 Louisiana 61 2.69
3 Arkansas 35 2.67
4 North Carolina 100 2.57
5 Wyoming 6 2.51
6 Maine 15 2.35
7 Oklahoma 37 2.16
8 Nevada 18 2.10
9 Alabama 47 2.08
10 Colorado 41 2.05
11 Mississippi 29 2.02
12  Texas 199 1.99
13 Virginia 69 1.99
14 Indiana 60 1.98
15 Georgia 76 1.94
. Rates have been rounded to two decimal places. In the case of a tie, the rate has been carried out to a third decimal place. Thus, Texas is ranked 12th with a rate of 1.987 and Virginia is ranked 13th with a rate of 1.986.

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 (1,699 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. 

Female Homicide Victims and Weapons

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. 

Female Homicide Victims and Circumstance

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. 

  1. Intra-racial homicides are homicides where the victim and the offender are of the same race. 
  2. Those places where the ethnicity was left blank or labeled as unknown did not count toward the minimum of 70 percent of Hispanic ethnicity being determined. 
  3. These are homicides in which the relationship between the victim and the offender could be identified. According to the FBI’s 1998 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 1,837 of 1,932 incidents. In 95 homicides 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 involve an acquaintance or relative of the victim. 

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