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Analysis of Intimate Partner Homicides in Massachusetts

VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 10

									Analysis of Intimate Partner Homicides in
Massachusetts
An Overview of Supplementary Homicide Report Cases between
1986 and 2007




Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lieutenant Governor
Kevin M. Burke, Secretary of Public Safety and Security


Report prepared by:
Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Research and Policy Analysis Division

April 2009
This document was prepared by the Research and Policy Analysis Division in the Massachusetts
Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

Author:
Shelley Penman, Data Coordinator

April 2009

Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the
official position or policies of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact:

Keith O’Brien, Director of Research
Research and Policy Analysis Division
Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Ten Park Plaza, Suite 3720
Boston, MA 02116
Keith.Obrien@state.ma.us




                                                                                                 2
Data Overview

Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data was analyzed in order to gain a better
understanding of the prevalence and characteristics of domestic intimate partner related
homicides in Massachusetts. The analysis was conducted using SHR data collected through the
FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. The SHR program collects detailed data
regarding the age, sex, and race of both the homicide victim and the offender; the relationship of
the victim to the offender; the type of weapon used in the offense; and the circumstance and
location of the incident. This report includes data voluntarily submitted to the Massachusetts
State Police, Crime Reporting Unit by local police agencies as of August 2008.

For the purposes of this report, cases were categorized as “intimate partner homicides” if the
victim/offender relationship was coded as: husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-husband/ex-
wife, common-law husband/wife, or homosexual relationship1. According to SHR statistics,
there were 375 intimate partner homicides in Massachusetts between 1986 and 2007 (see Figure
1)2. The number of intimate partner homicides fluctuated considerably over the years reaching a
high in 1995 (32) and a low in 2001 (9). There were 24 intimate partner homicides in 2007, a
100% increase from the previous year. The average number of intimate partner homicides per
year was 17.
                                                           Figure 1.
                                                Homicides by Year, 1986 to 2007
                40

                                                          1995, 32

                30
                                                                                                            2007, 24


                20



                10

                                                                                     2001, 9
                        Total = 375
                 0
                 86

                 87
                 88

                 89
                 90

                 91
                 92

                 93
                 94

                 95
                 96

                 97
                 98

                 99
                 00

                 01
                 02

                 03
                 04

                 05
                 06

                 07
              19

              19
              19

              19
              19

              19
              19

              19
              19

              19
              19

              19
              19

              19
              20

              20
              20

              20
              20

              20
              20

              20




An additional analysis was conducted on intimate partner homicides occurring between 2005 and
2007 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts based on a data collection tool (survey) designed
by EOPSS for use by the 11 District Attorney’s offices in the state. This report presents detailed
findings on the 47 intimate partner (IP) homicide surveys returned to EOPSS by the District
Attorneys. The report is titled “Massachusetts Intimate Partner Homicide Review: An Overview
of District Attorney Cases between 2005 and 2007” and is available on the EOPSS website
(www.mass.gov/eopss).
1
  Ex-girlfriends/boyfriends cannot be included in this analysis because there is not a separate designation for ex-boyfriends or ex-
girlfriends in the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report relationship categories.
2
  Although there were 375 domestic violence homicides there were 377 homicide offenders. Two homicides involved 2
offenders.


                                                                                                                                  3
Characteristics of Homicide Victims and Offenders
Age
Figure 2 compares the age of intimate partner homicide victims to offenders. Both intimate
partner victims and offenders were most commonly between the ages of 21 and 40 (nearly 60%
of both victims and offenders) at the time of the homicide. The most common age (modal age)
was 25 years old for victims and 24 years old for offenders 3.

                                                           Figure 2.
                                   Homicide Victim and Offender Age, 1986 to 2007
                 35%
                                         29% 30%         30% 30%                                Offender
                 30%
                                                                                                Victim
                 25%
                                                                       20%
                 20%                                                         17%
                 15%

                 10%             8%                                                  8%   8%     8%
                           5%                                                                              6%
                  5%

                  0%
                           Under 20        21 to 30       31 to 40     41 to 50      51 to 60     Over 60


Gender
Intimate partner homicide victims were predominately female (82%) while offenders were
predominately male (84%)4.

                                                            Table 1.

                                 Gender of Victims and Offenders, 1986 to 2007
                                                           Victims                 Offenders
                           Female                           82%                      16%
                           Male                             18%                      84%




3
    Age information was missing for 2 offenders and 3 victims.
4
    Gender information was missing for 5 offenders.


                                                                                                                4
   Race
   The racial background of intimate partner homicide victims and offenders was very similar.
   Although White was the most common racial category for both victims and offenders, victims
   were slightly more likely to be White (72% compared to 67% for offenders) (see Figures 3 and
   4).
                         Figure 3.                                                                 Figure 4.
        Homicide Offender Race, 1986 to 2007                                              Homicide Victim Race, 1986 to 2007


                                                     American                                                         American
                                                                                                                   Indian/Alaskan
                                                  Indian/Alaskan
                                                                                                                    Native, 3, 1%
                                                   Native, 5, 1%
                                                                                                                                  Unknown/
                                                            Unknown/                                                             Missing, 7,
White, 253,                                                Missing, 12,                                                             2%
  67%                                                          3%           White, 269,
                                                                              72%                                           Asian/Pacific
                                                    Asian/Pacific
                                                     Islander, 7,                                                            Islander, 9,
                                                         2%                                                                      2%


                                                                                                                          Black, 87,
                                                                                                                             23%
                                             Black, 100,
 Total = 377                                    27%                            Total = 375



   Race and Gender
   Figure 5 shows the distribution of homicide victims and offenders by gender and race5. When
   comparing male and female homicide victims, male victims were more racially diverse (57%
   White, 40% Black, and 3% other) than female homicide victims (77% White, 20% Black, and
   3% other). The opposite is true for male and female offenders. Female offenders were more
   racially diverse than male offenders (59% White, 34% Black, and 7% other compared to 71%
   White, 26% Black, and 3% other).

                                                                   Figure 5.
                             Homicide Victims and Offenders by Race and Gender, 1986 to 2007
                     100%                    3%                       3%                      7%                  3%
                                     20%                                                                   26%
                      80%                                    40%                     34%

                      60%

                      40%            77%                                                                   71%
                                                             57%                      59%
                      20%

                       0%
                                   Female                    Male                   Female                 Male

                                               Victims                                         Offenders
                                                                   White   Black   Other



   5
       Racial information was missing for 7 victims.


                                                                                                                                       5
Ethnicity
Both homicide victims and offenders were most commonly Non-Hispanic (70% of victims and
56% of offenders). Offenders had a larger category of unknown ethnicity (21% compared to
11% for victims).

                                             Table 2.

                      Ethnicity of Victims and Offenders, 1986 to 2007
                                             Victims            Offenders
                  Non-Hispanic                70%                 56%
                  Unknown                     11%                 21%
                  Hispanic                    11%                 11%
                  Missing                      8%                 12%



Victim-Offender Relationship
Approximately half of all intimate partner homicides were committed by boyfriends/girlfriends
(50%) followed closely by husband/wives (44%).

                                             Figure 6.
                     Victim/Offender Relationship by Category, 1986 to 2007


                                                          Husband/Wife, 166,
                                                                44%




                     Boyfriend/Girlfriend,                    Ex-Husband/Wife,
                          187, 50%                                11, 3%
                                                          Homosexual
                                                         Relation, 11, 3%
                      Total = 375




                                                                                                6
Intimate partner homicide victims were most commonly girlfriends of the offender (40%) or
wives (37%). It is not surprising that female relationships were the most common categories
given that females are much more often victims of intimate partner violence than males (82%
compared to 18%, see Table 1).

                                                                Figure 7.
                                Relationship of Victim to Offender, 1986 to 2007


                             Girlfriend                                                  40%

                                 Wife                                              37%
         Victim




                            Boyfriend                       10%

                             Husband                 5%

                  Homosexual Relation           3%

                    Common-law Wife            2%

                             Ex-Wife           2%
                                                                                   Total = 375
                          Ex-Husband       1%

                                          0%              10%          20%   30%    40%          50%




                                                                                                       7
Homicide Circumstances

City/Town
Map 1 shows the distribution of intimate partner homicides around the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. Intimate partner homicides are widely dispersed, 31% of Massachusetts
cities/towns experienced one or more homicide between 1986 and 2007 (109 of 351
cities/towns).
                                                Map 1.
                           Count of Intimate Partner Homicides, 1986 to 2007




Figure 8 shows the most common city/town where intimate partner homicides occurred.
Cities/towns not shown had 5 or fewer homicides between 1986 and 2007. Boston had the
largest number of intimate partner homicides during this time period (79), followed by
Springfield (27) and Lynn (16).

                                                         Figure 8.
                                         City/Town of Homicide, 1986 to 2007

                Boston                                                              79
            Springfield                             27
                  Lynn                        16
              Brockton                   13
            Worcester                    12
            Barnstable                   12
              Fall River            8
             Somerville         7
           New Bedford          7
                 Lowell         7
             Lawrence           7
                Quincy          6

                           0        10         20   30        40     50   60   70   80   90




                                                                                              8
Location
Intimate partner homicides most often occurred in a residence/home (197 or 85%). Location
could only be analyzed for cases that occurred between 1993 and 2007 due to a large number of
missing data prior to 1993.

                                                           Figure 9.
                                           Location of Homicide, 1993 to 2007

                       Residence/home                                                                             197

                Other/unknown/missing                 11

                     Parking lot/garage           9

                     Highway/road/alley           6

                            Field/woods       5

             Commercial/office building       2
                                                                                                  Total = 232
                            Hotel/motel       2

                                          0                50                100               150               200



Circumstance
SHR data also includes a variable regarding the circumstance of the homicide. Of the intimate
partner homicides analyzed6, almost three quarters were considered domestic/family (73%)
followed by miscellaneous argument (9%)7.

                                                           Figure 10.
                                         Circumstance of Homicide, 1986 to 2007

                                                                                    Brawl due to
                                                                               influence of alcohol,
                                                                                       2, 1%

                                                                                   Rape, 2, 1%

                                                                                        Lovers triangle, 18,
                            Domestic/family,                                                    5%
                              276, 73%
                                                                                    Unknown, 19, 5%

                                                                                    Other, 21, 6%


                                                                              Misc argument, 37,
                           Total = 373                                                9%




6
  For the purposes of this report, homicides were categorized as intimate partner homicides based on the relationship of the victim
and offender (see Data Overview for more information).
7
  Circumstance information was missing for 2 victims.


                                                                                                                                 9
Weapon
The most common weapon used in intimate partner homicides was a knife (39%) followed by a
firearm (28%).

                                                             Figure 11.
                                       Weapon Used in Homicide, 1986 to 2007

                    Knife                                                                              39%
                 Firearm                                                          28%
         Personal weapon                               10%
             Blunt object                              10%
            Strangulation                  4%
            Asphyxiation               4%
        Unknown/Missing               2%
                     Fire         1%
           Motor Vehicle     <1%                                                        Total = 375
                   Drugs     <1%

                            0%                    10%                20%          30%                 40%




Figure 12 shows the differences in weapons used on female and male homicide victims. In 70%
of homicides involving male victims a knife was used, compared to only 34% involving female
victims. In other words, males were more commonly killed with a knife than females. Firearms
were used more often on females victims (30%) compared to male victims (18%).

                                                             Figure 12.
                                      Weapon by Victim Gender, 1986 to 2007
                                                                          34%
                   Knife                                                                                    70%
                                                                    30%
                Firearm                                  18%
                                                 12%
            Blunt object           3%
                                                 12%
       Personal weapon                 5%
                                        5%
           Strangulation         0%
                                     4%
           Asphyxiation           2%
                                  1%                                                      Female Victim
                   Other            3%                                                    Male Victim
                                  1%
               Unknown           0%

                            0%             10%         20%        30%       40%   50%       60%        70%




                                                                                                                  10

								
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