Can Situational and Structural Factors Differentiate Between Intimate Partner and “Other” Homicide?

Abstract

A large body of research has identified strong and consistent correlates of aggregated intimate homicide incidents; however, the bulk of these studies focuses on the influence of either case or neighborhood characteristics on homicide types, but not both. This study examines data collected from 739 homicides in two distinct metropolitan cities to determine which factors differentiate intimate and non-intimate homicide. Findings reveal that intimate partner homicides (IPH) are more likely to involve females both as victims and offenders when compared to non-IPH incidents. In addition, IPH homicides are more likely to be committed with weapons than non-IPH, but this finding only appears in Indianapolis homicides. Indeed, one of the stark contrasts between Indianapolis and Newark was the much greater prevalence of firearms involved in IPH homicides in Indianapolis. This suggests the need for future research that sorts out patterns of household gun possession, factors influencing community levels of household gun possession, and the use of legally- or illegally-possessed firearms in IPH homicide.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    The information used to code incident type comes from a variety of sources such as witness testimonies, evidence obtained from the scene of the crime by police investigators, and confessions obtained from offenders.

  2. 2.

    Logistic regression was selected rather than hierarchical linear modeling. There is an insufficient number of homicides per neighborhood to warrant an HLM model.

  3. 3.

    Separate analysis (not presented here) using a dummy indicator of “same sex” revealed only trivial changes in the values of the remaining regression coefficients.

  4. 4.

    Difference of coefficients tests were conducted using a z-test (Paternoster et al. 1998).

  5. 5.

    This was a surprising finding, but it appears to be driven by the highly gendered nature of IPH and choice of weapon. Female offenders, for example, are more likely to use knives rather than guns when killing and are more likely to commit IPH than non-IPH.

References

  1. Anderson, E. (1999). Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the Inner city. New York: Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bailey, W., & Peterson, R. D. (1995). Gender inequality and violence against women: The case of murder. In J. Hagan & R. D. Peterson (Eds.), Crime and Inequality (pp. 174–205). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Benson, M., Fox, G. L., DeMaris, A., & Van Wyk, J. (2003). Neighborhood disadvantage, individual economic distress and violence against women in intimate relationships. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 19, 207–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Benson, M., Wooldredge, J., Thistlethwaite, A. B., & Fox, G. L. (2004). The correlation between race and domestic violence is confounded with community context. Social Problems, 51, 326–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Breitman, N., Shackelford, T. K., & Block, C. R. (2004). Couple age discrepancy and risk of intimate partner homicide. Violence and Victims, 19, 321–342.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Browning, C. R. (2002). The span of collective efficacy: extending social disorganization theory to partner violence. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 64, 833–850.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Clarke, R. V., & Cornish, D. B. (1985). Modeling offenders’ decisions: A framework for research and policy. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and Justice, Volume 6 (pp. 147–185). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  8. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Homicide. New York: A. de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Decker, S. H. (1993). Exploring victim-offender relationship in homicide: the role of individual and event characteristics. Justice Quarterly, 10, 585–612.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Diem, C., & Pizarro, J. M. (2010). Social structure and family homicides. Journal of Family Violence, 25, 521–532.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Dobash, R. E., & Dobash, R. P. (2011). What were they thinking? Men who murder an intimate partner. Violence Against Women, 17, 111–134.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Dobash, R. E., Dobash, R. P., Cavanagh, K., & Lewis, R. (2004). Not an ordinary killer–just an ordinary guy: when men murder an intimate partner. Violence Against Women, 10, 577–605.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Dobrin, A., & Brusk, J. J. (2003). The risk of offending on homicide victimization: A public health concern. American Journal of Health Behavior, 27, 603–612.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2006). Crime in the United States: 2005 Uniform Crime Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Fox, J. A., & Zawitz, M. W. (2006). Homicide trends in the United States. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

  16. Gallup-Black, A. (2005). Twenty years of rural and urban trends in family and intimate partner homicide–Does place matter? Homicide Studies, 9, 149–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hampton, R. L., & Gelles, R. J. (1994). Violence toward Black women in a nationally representative sample of Black families. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 25, 105–119.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Jensen, V. J. (2001). Why women kill: Homicide and gender equality. Boulder: Rienner.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kruttschnitt, C., Gartner, R., & Ferraro, K. (2002). Women’s involvement in serious interpersonal violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 7, 529–565.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Lauritsen, J. L., & Schaum, R. J. (2004). The social ecology of violence against women. Criminology, 42, 323–357.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Mann, C. R. (1988). Getting even? Women who kill in domestic encounters. Justice Quarterly, 5, 33–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Massey, D. S. (1996). The age of extremes: concentrated affluence and poverty in the Twenty-first Century. Demography, 33, 395–412.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Maxwell, C. D., Garner, J. H., & Fagan, J. A. (2001). The effects of arrest on intimate partner violence: New evidence from the spouse assault replication program (National Institute of Justice Research in Brief). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Maxwell, C. D., Garner, J. H., & Fagan, J. A. (2002). The preventive effects of arrest on intimate partner violence: research, policy and theory. Criminology & Public Policy, 2, 51–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. McGarrell, E. F., & Chermak, S. (2003). Strategic approaches to reducing firearms violence: Final Report on the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership. Final Report submitted to the National Institute of Justice. (http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/203976.pdf; accessed 10/20/07)

  26. Miles-Doan, R. (1998). Violence between spouses and intimates: does neighborhood context matter? Social Forces, 77, 623–645.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Paternoster, R., Brame, R., Mazerolle, P., & Piquero, A. (1998). Using the correct statistical test for the equality of regression coefficients. Criminology, 36, 859–866.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Pridemore, W. A. (2002). What we know about social structure and homicide: A review of the theoretical and empirical literature. Violence and Victims, 17, 127–156.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Pridemore, W. A. (2005). A cautionary note on using county-level crime and homicide data. Homicide Studies, 9, 256–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Pridemore, W. A., & Freilich, J. D. (2005). Gender equity, traditional masculine culture, and female homicide victimization. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33, 213–223.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Sampson, R. J., & Groves, W. B. (1989). Community structure and crime: testing social disorganization theory. The American Journal of Sociology, 94, 774–802.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Sampson, R. J., & Wilson, W. J. (1995). Toward a theory of race, crime, and urban inequality. In J. Hagan & R. D. Peterson (Eds.), Crime and inequality (pp. 37–54). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 918–924.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. Serran, G., & Firestone, P. (2004). Intimate partner homicide: a review of the male proprietariness and the self-defense theories. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9, 1–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Shaw, C. R., & McKay, H. D. (1942). Juvenile delinquency and urban areas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Smith, M. D., & Brewer, V. E. (1995). Female status and the “gender gap” in U.S. homicide victimization. Violence Against Women, 1, 339–350.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. A., & Steinmetz, S. K. (1980). Behind closed doors: Violence in the American family. Garden City: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  38. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2000). American FactFinder. Retrieved on January 10, 2008 from http://factfinder.census.gov.

  39. Van Wyk, J. A., Benson, M. L., Fox, G. L., & DeMaris, A. (2003). Detangling individual-, partner-, and community-level correlates of partner violence. Crime & Delinquency, 57, 412–438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Vieraitis, L. M., & Williams, M. R. (2002). Assessing the impact of gender inequality and female homicide victimization across U.S. cities: a racially disaggregated analysis. Violence Against Women, 8, 35–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Websdale, N. (1999). Domestic homicide. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Wells, W., & Granados, W. D. (2004). The intimate partner homicide decline: disaggregated trends, theoretical explanations, and policy implications. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 15, 229–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Wilson, W. J. (1996). When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor. New York: Vintage Books, Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1993). Spousal homicide risk and estrangement. Violence and Victims, 8, 3–16.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  45. Wooldredge, J., & Thistlethwaite, A. (2003). Neighborhood structure and race-specific rates of intimate assault. Criminology, 41, 393–422.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christina DeJong.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

DeJong, C., Pizarro, J.M. & McGarrell, E.F. Can Situational and Structural Factors Differentiate Between Intimate Partner and “Other” Homicide?. J Fam Viol 26, 365–376 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-011-9371-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Homicide
  • Intimate partner homicide
  • Domestic violence
  • Social disorganization
  • Female inequality
  • Economic deprivation