Murder by the Numbers

Who's Killing Who, and Why

A quick review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's breakdown of 2005's 14,860 killings suggests that you may actually be safer in the company of strangers. While the relationship of perp to victim remains unknown in about half of all cases, strangers account for just 2,070 of the murders. Almost 600 wives were killed, 245 sons, 190 daughters, 135 husbands, 123 mothers, 118 fathers, and a smattering of siblings and other kinfolk.

With 461 deaths, dead girlfriends outpaced dead boyfriends some 3-to-1 and plain old friends 2-to-1. Given that we're inclined hereabouts to see gay and lesbian couples as intimates as easily moved to violence as the average breeder, we'd argue that the Bureau should change its practice of lumping homosexual relationships into the single largest category, acquaintances, with the "other known to victim" perps.

As to the motives, "other arguments" sparked 3,692 of the murders, while robbery was the proximate cause of 921 and narcotics of nearly 600. Killings holding the possibility of a good yarn--romantic triangles, children killed by babysitters, and sniper attacks--were disappointingly few.

You can read the fine print here, where you'll also find links to other spreadsheets bearing homocidal fun facts.

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