Killed in the Act: A Descriptive Analysis of Crime-Precipitated Homicide

Anne Carroll, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Heith Copes, University of Alabama - Birmingham

Aggregate level homicide rates are subject to significant limitations. Disaggregating homicide into group-specific measures provides insight into the constellation of factors implicated in the nature and causes of lethal violence (Hawkins 1999; Flewelling and Willilams 1999). The current paper provides a descriptive analysis of "crime-precipated" homicides. Crime-precipitate homicides are those in which the victim was killed while participating in illegal behavior. We categorize illegal behavior into predatory crimes, vice crimes, and narcotics dealing and utilize the Chicago Homicide Data Set (Block and Block 1998) to determine the demographic characteristics of victims, offenders, and the event. We found that crime-precipitated homicides differ significantly from homicides in general. We also find considerable variation among the types of victim-precipitated homicides. The results of this study indicate some interesting insights into the nature of lethal violence as well as illustrate the continuing utility of disaggregating homicide data.

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Updated 05/20/2006