An Analysis of 2019 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 states with the 10 highest rates of females killed by males, 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 these states can be found in Appendix Two.
In 2019, the homicide rate among female victims murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents nationally was 1.18 per 100,000. For that year, Alaska ranked first as the state with the highest homicide rate among female victims killed by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents. Its rate of 5.14 per 100,000 was more than four times the national rate. Alaska was followed by New Mexico (2.64 per 100,000) and Nevada (2.28 per 100,000). The remaining states with the 10 highest rates, all of which had female homicide victimization rates higher than the national rate, can be found in the chart below. For ranking information for all states that submitted data to the FBI, please see Appendix One.
AGE AND RACE OF FEMALE HOMICIDE VICTIMS
In 2019, for single female victim/single male offender homicides where the age of the victim was reported (1,752 homicides), five percent of the victims were younger than 18 years old (81 victims) and 13 percent were 65 years of age or older (227 victims). The average age of female homicide victims was 41 years old. Homicides in which race was identified (1,759 victims) included: 39 American Indian or Alaskan Native females; 53 Asian or Pacific Islander females; 501 Black females; and, 1,166 white females. Eighty-five percent (1,491 out of 1,759) of the homicides where the race of the female victim and male offender were known were intra-racial.13 Overall, Black females were murdered by males at a rate (2.34 per 100,000) more than twice as high as white females (0.99 per 100,000). American Indian and Alaskan Native females (1.69 per 100,000) were murdered by male offenders at a higher rate than white females, while Asian and Pacific Islander females were the least likely (0.49 per 100,000) females of any race to be murdered by a male offender. Nationally, the female homicide victimization rate was 1.18 per 100,000. Unfortunately, Hispanic ethnicity could not be determined on a national level because of the inadequacy of reporting and data collection.
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. For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 91 percent of female victims (1,476 out of 1,622) were murdered by someone they knew. Ten times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,476 victims) than were killed by male strangers (146 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2019.14 Of victims who knew their offenders, 62 percent (915 out of 1,476) 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 were the weapon most commonly used by males to murder females in 2019. For homicides in which the weapon could be identified, 58 percent of female victims (910 out of 1,566) were killed with a gun. Of the females killed with a firearm, 59 percent were murdered by male intimates. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (537 victims) was more than three and a half times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (146 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2019. In homicides where males used firearms to kill females, handguns were clearly the weapon of choice over rifles and shotguns. In 2019, 65 percent of female firearm homicide victims (596 out of 910) were killed with handguns.
FEMALE HOMICIDE VICTIMS AND CIRCUMSTANCE
The overwhelming majority of homicides of females by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents in 2019 were not related to any other felony crime. Most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument—most frequently with a firearm. In 2019 there were 1,320 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, 85 percent (1,120 out of 1,320) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
Of the homicides not related to the commission of another felony, 62 percent (699 out of 1,120) involved arguments between the female victim and male offender. Fifty-nine percent (414 out of 699) of the homicides stemming from an argument were committed with guns. In 2019 there were 303 women shot and killed by their husbands or intimate acquaintances in single victim/single offender incidents during the course of an argument.
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13 Intra-racial homicides are homicides in which the victim and the offender are of the same race.
14 These are homicides in which the relationship between the victim and the offender could be identified. According to the FBI’s 2019 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 1,622 of 1,795 incidents (90 percent). In 173 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 homicides where the relationship was initially unknown 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.