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Publication Murder in Families

John M. Dawson, Patrick A. Langan, Ph.D.

July 10, 1994    NCJ 143498

This BJS Special Report, a survey of murder cases disposed in 1988 in the courts of large urban counties, found that 16% of murder victims were members of the defendant's family: 6.5% were killed by their spouses, 3.5% by their parents, 1.9% by their own children, 1.5% by their siblings, and 2.6% by other relatives. Women were 45% of the victims in murders involving family members but 18% of victims in other murders. Among family murder defendants, 35% were female versus 7% among nonfamily defendants. Women were over half of the defendants (55%) in only one category of family murder: parents killing their offspring. Firearms were used in 42% of family murders, compared to 63% of nonfamily murders.

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