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When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 1996 Homicide Data

Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents

U.S. Summary

2,129 females were murdered by males in the United States in 1996

The homicide rate among females murdered by males in the U.S. was 1.57 per 100,000 in 1996


Two hundred and eighty-three female homicide victims (13 percent) were less than 18 years old, and 178 victims (eight percent) were 65 years of age or older.


Female murder victims in which race was identified (2,113 victims) included: 1,278 white females; 777 black females; 47 Asian or Pacific Islanders; and 11 American Indian or Alaskan natives. While the actual number of victims was highest among white females, the rate of homicide was nearly four times higher among black females (4.40 per 100,000 versus 1.14 per 100,000).

Most Common Weapons

In cases in which the weapon used in the homicide could be identified (2,023 cases), more than half of all female homicide victims (1,139 victims or 56 percent) were shot and killed with guns. Nearly three quarters of these gun victims (843 victims or 74 percent) were killed with handguns. There were 372 females killed with knives or other cutting instruments; 258 females killed by bodily force; 116 females killed with blunt objects; and, 86 females killed by strangulation. The remainder of cases involved other non-firearm weapons.

Victim/Offender Relationship

In cases in which the relationship between the victim and the offender could be identified (2,017 cases), nine out of 10 female victims (1,866 victims or 93 percent) were murdered by someone they knew. Only 151 female victims (seven percent) were killed by strangers. Of victims who knew their offenders, more than half (1,051 victims or 56 percent) were wives, common law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Among the 1,051 female intimates murdered, 64 percent (669 victims) were killed with guns; nearly three quarters of these gun victims (496 victims) were shot and killed with handguns.


In cases in which the circumstance of the homicide could be identified (1,780 cases), 84 percent (1,497 cases) were not related to the commission of another felony. Of these cases, nearly two thirds (948 cases or 63 percent) involved arguments between the victim and offender.

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All contents � 1998 Violence Policy Center