When Men Murder Women (1998 Data): Section Three: Hispanic Women—Five-State Analysis

Few national or regional studies have compared the murder of Hispanic women to black women and/or white women. This omission is partly because there is no comprehensive database that adequately identifies women of Hispanic ethnicity and the circumstances of their murders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about the numbers of murders broken out by Hispanic ethnicity, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation has information about the circumstances of murders, but has severely limited information regarding ethnicity. There is no way to link the two databases, nor any other database that contains both types of information. 

Only five states�Arizona, California, Nebraska, Oregon, and Texas – reported Hispanic ethnicity information that could be broken down for comparison with other races/ethnicities. These five states provide a snapshot of the characteristics of Hispanic female homicides and how these homicides fit into the larger female homicide picture. 

Comparing the three races/ethnicities of white, black, and Hispanic females, white females had the lowest homicide rate, Hispanic females had a slightly higher rate than whites, and black females had a homicide rate nearly three times that of whites in the five states that were analyzed. 

The finding that Hispanic females are killed at rates slightly above white females, but below black females, is consistent with the national female homicide rate (including women murdered by other women, women murdered by more than one person, etc.). The overall female homicide rate for Hispanic females is 2.89 per 100,000, with the white and black female homicide rates at 2.09 and 8.84 per 100,000, respectively.1

Chart Two: Comparison of Female Homicide Rates in Five States* 
Race/Ethnicity Number of Victims Rate per 100,000
White 249 1.40
Hispanic 131 1.54
Black 93 3.84

*Homicide rates are for women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents. 

Age of Hispanic Female Homicide Victims�Five-State Analysis

In single female victim/single male offender homicides reported for 1998, 13 percent (17 victims) of the Hispanic victims were less than 18 years old and only one percent (one victim) were 65 years of age or older. The average age of Hispanic female homicide victims was 28 years old, far younger than the average age of non-Hispanic white women (42 years old) or black women (31 years old) in the five states analyzed. 

Victim to Offender Relationship – Five-State Analysis

Compared to a man, a Hispanic woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. Seven times as many Hispanic females were murdered by a male they knew (111 victims) than were killed by male strangers (16 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998. Of Hispanic victims who knew their offenders, 69 percent (77 out of 111) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Of the homicides where the race/ethnicity of the offender was known, 84 percent (109 out of 130) involved an offender of the same race/ethnicity. 

Hispanic Female Homicide Victims and Weapons – Five-State Analysis

Firearms�especially handguns�were the most common weapons used by men to murder Hispanic females in 1998. In homicides in which the murder weapon could be identified, 58 percent (72 out of 125) of all female Hispanic homicide victims in the five states were shot and killed with guns. And when these women were killed with a gun, it was almost always a handgun (63 victims or 88 percent). In fact, in the five states, 88 percent of Hispanic women were killed with a handgun in firearm murders, compared to 78 percent of non-Hispanic white women and 73 percent of black women. The number of Hispanic females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (45 victims) was nearly three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (16 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998. 

Hispanic Female Homicide Victims and Circumstance – Five-State Analysis

The overwhelming majority of homicides among Hispanic 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 for homicides in which the circumstance between the Hispanic female victim and male offender could be identified, 89 percent (110 out of 124) were not related to the commission of any other felony. 

Of the homicides not involving a felony, 73 percent (80 out of 110) involved arguments between the Hispanic female victim and male offender. Fifty-one percent (41 victims) were shot and killed with guns during those arguments. 

  1. Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control�WISQARS.

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