217203 Intimate partner vs. non-intimate murder: Differences in legal, situational, clinical and personal characteristics

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Kristie A. Thomas, MSW , School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Melissa E. Dichter, PhD , Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA
Jason C. Matejkowski, MSW , School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Life, liberty, and security of person are basic human rights. Homicide, taking another's life, is a violation of such rights and may be particularly unjust when committed by an intimate partner. Previous research has identified risk factors for intimate homicide, but we know little about the extent to which those who kill an intimate partner differ from those who kill a non-intimate. Uncovering differences between these two groups may inform targeted violence prevention efforts. Using an integrated database of personal, situational, legal, and clinical characteristics derived from correctional, health, and court system documents for all persons convicted of murder (knowingly or intentionally killing another human being) in Indiana between 1990-2002, we compared men convicted of murdering an intimate partner (n=71) to men convicted of murdering a non-intimate (n=291). The two groups were similar in histories of childhood abuse, substance abuse, and prior arrests. Men who murdered an intimate were significantly more likely than their counterparts to have: been employed at the time of the offense (73% vs. 45%), graduated high school (49% vs. 30%), a history of suicide attempts (27% vs. 16%) or severe mental illness (26% vs. 12%). Intimate murders were more often committed: without an accomplice (96% vs. 56%), via methods of strangulation or suffocation (21% vs. 7%), and with a motivation of “rage” (87% vs. 31%). Findings suggest that the context of intimate partner murder is largely different from non-intimate partner murder, and, therefore, prevention efforts should be appropriately tailored to unique risk factors.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe personal, situational, legal, and clinical characteristics of intimate partner and non-intimate partner murder. 2. Compare and contrast these characteristics. 3. Discuss how prevention efforts might differ based upon the homicide-victim relationship.

Keywords: Domestic Violence, Homicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have been working in the field of intimate partner violence, first as a practitioner and now as a researcher, for 10 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.