When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2000 Homicide 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 2000 the homicide rate among female victims murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in the United States was 1.34 per 100,000. For that year, Mississippi 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 2.72 per 100,000 was more than twice the national average. Mississippi was followed by Arizona (2.26 per 100,000) and South Carolina (2.23 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 2000, nine percent of the victims were less than 18 years old (154 victims) and nine percent were 65 years of age or older (157 victims). The average age of female homicide victims was 37 years old. Homicides in which race was identified (1,791 victims) included: 16 American Indian females, 47 Asian or Pacific Islander females, 608 black females, and 1,120 white females. Ninety percent (1,600 out of 1,775) of the homicides where the race of the female victim and male offender were known were intra-racial.j Overall, black women (3.18 per 100,000) were murdered at a rate more than three times higher than white women (1.01 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 49 states reporting, only eight states reported having at least one Hispanic female homicide victim. Yet, even most of these states did not code a sufficient number of their female victims’ ethnicity as either Hispanic or non-Hispanic to run a valid analysis.
Chart One: Number of Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Homicides and Rates by State in 2000, Ranked by Rate

Ranking State Number of Homicides Homicide Rate per 100,000
1 Mississippi 40 2.72
2 Arizona 58 2.26
3 South Carolina  46 2.23
4 Tennessee 62 2.12
5 Louisiana  47 2.04
6 North Carolina  81 1.97
7 Arkansas 26 1.90
8 New Mexico 17 1.84
9 Nevada 17 1.73
10 Georgia  70 1.68
11 Virginia  60 1.66
12  Texas 174 1.66
13 Alabama 38 1.65
14 Wyoming  1.63
15 Michigan 82  1.62


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. Nearly 11 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,551 victims) than were killed by male strangers (142 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2000.k Of victims who knew their offenders, 62 percent (963 out of 1,551) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. (Ex-girlfriends cannot be included in the intimate acquaintance analysis because there is not a separate designation for ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends in the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report relationship category.) 

Female Homicide Victims and Weapons

Firearms – especially handguns – were the most common weapons used by males to murder females in 2000. For homicides in which the weapon could be identified, 52 percent of female victims (879 out of 1,692) were shot and killed with a gun. Of the females killed with a firearm, nearly two-thirds were murdered by male intimates. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (557 victims) was nearly four times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (142 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2000. In homicides where males used firearms to kill females, handguns were clearly the weapon of choice over rifles and shotguns. In 2000, 76 percent of female firearm homicide victims (665 out of 879) 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 2000 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 2000 there were 1,491 incidents in which the circumstances of the homicide between the female victim and male offender in single victim/single offender incidents could be identified. Of these, 88 percent (1,313 out of 1,491) were not related to the commission of any other felony. 

Of the non-felony homicides, 63 percent (829 out of 1,313) involved arguments between the female victim and male offender and 53 percent (439 out of 829) of those homicides involved guns. According to the Supplementary Homicide Report data, in 2000 there were 331 women shot and killed by their husbands or intimate acquaintances in single victim/single offender incidents during the course of an argument�nearly one such murder every day of the year. 

j) Intra-racial homicides are homicides where the victim and the offender are of the same race. 

k) These are homicides in which the relationship between the victim and the offender could be identified. According to the FBI’s 2000 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 1,693 of 1,805 incidents. In 112 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. 

Back to Table of Contents