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

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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.

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Notes

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

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

  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.

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Correspondence to Christina DeJong.

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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

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