Statistics on spousal murders:  Dispelling the myths

I have heard many a pundit state that the husband/boyfriend is the natural suspect in a murder case because of the high % of women murdered by their husband/boyfriend.

However, these stats debunk that myth. "Fifty-five percent of [adult] murder victims were slain by strangers or persons unknown. Among all female [adult] murder victims in 1995, 26 percent were slain by husbands or boyfriends ."

Source: FBI stats

2nd source:

"Among all female victims in 1992, 29% were slain by boyfriends or husbands . Of these murder victims, 55% were married."


I think some people twist this last stat to mean that 55% of all female murder victims are murdered by their husband/boyfriend, when that is not at all what it says. It says 55% of the 29% who were murder by their significant other were married to their significant other -- that reduces to 16% of the female victims in 1992 were murdered by their husbands.

Here is another view of the stats. "Nearly 2 in 3 female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker." (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. iii)


Sound familiar. Well, read on for the rest of the story (the part Nancy Grace never mentions). "Over two-thirds of violent victimizations against women were committed by someone known to them: 31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger. Approximately 28% were intimates such as husbands or boyfriends , 35% were acquaintances , and the remaining 5% were other relatives."


This last group of stats is talking about ALL violence against women, not just murder. But, the rate of ALL violence committed by a husband/boyfriend is pretty much in line with the murder stats.

So, according to these sources, Scott should have been only 3rd in line for consideration -- another acquaintance first, a stranger second, then Scott.

More stats: "Table No. 340 of the 1998 Statistical Abstract of the United States, states that 3,631 females were murdered in the United States in 1996. Using 3,631 as a baseline, from Table No. 1 of the report "Murder in Families" (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report #NCJ143498), 5.5% or 199 were wives murdered by husbands, 2.7% or 98 were mothers murdered by children, 1.6% or 58 were daughters murdered by parents, 1.3% were girls murdered by siblings, and 2.3% or 84 were girls murdered by "other".

Of the remaining 86.6% or 3,144 females who were murdered by non-family members, 107 were children, leaving 3,077 women murdered by non-family members. Thus, fifteen times as many women are murdered by non-family members as wives are murdered by husbands. Clearly, the safest place a woman can be is in her home with the biological father of her children."


Some analysis of spousal murders

"spousal murder is primarily a psychological issue of pervasive familial violence on all sides, generated by the passions of family interaction." Source: