The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) released a new report that shows an increase in the number of women killed in domestic violence murders in Texas by their husband, ex-husband, intimate partner, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. The report reveals 114 women were killed in domestic violence murders in 2012. 102 women were killed in 2011.
The annual report titled: Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities provides our state’s only comprehensive analysis of women killed in Texas by their male intimate partner. The report tracks and discusses detailed information about each murder, offers the respectfully summarized stories of the women killed and offers hopeful strategies for addressing intimate partner fatalities and violence in our state. It is necessary to report and analyze fatalities to prevent future fatalities.
The 2012 fatalities reflect that victims’ ages ranged from 15 to 84. Three women were under the age of 20; a 22-year-old boyfriend killed a 15-year-old minor by strangling her to death in a hotel room. The eldest (84 years old) victim’s husband shot and killed her. Victims age 30-39 represent the most prevalent age group; followed by victims’ age 20-29, and then by victims age 40-49. These trends have remained consistent for the last two years. Unlike 2011, which saw no fatalities for women age 60-69, four women in this age group were murdered in 2012. Clearly intimate partner violence occurs throughout the life span.
Children Attacked at Scenes of Crimes
In several instances, murderers violently attacked young children at the scenes of the crimes. While killing their intimate partners, 11 perpetrators also stabbed, strangled, shot, kidnapped or sexually assaulted children at the scene. In a related trend, murders caused nine small children to be neglected for a period at the scene of the crime; these children’s’ ages ranged from a few months to eight years old.
While again perpetrators overwhelmingly used firearms to inflict lethal violence in 2012, perpetrators also used brutal force and a range of weapons including vehicles. One perpetrator pursued his girlfriend in his car, forcing her car off the road where she was pinned between his vehicle and a utility pole. Another perpetrator pursued and killed his girlfriend with his car as she walked home after an argument.
Four murderers burned the bodies of their victims after they killed them, in effect attempting to erase evidence of the crime. In two instances, murderers set the vehicles where the homicides occurred on fire; in a third instance, a perpetrator placed the body of the victim in a dumpster and ignited a fire after strangling and killing her. Another perpetrator set fire to the home where he killed his wife.
In 2012, the counties with the largest population and which include large urban cities also ranked as the four counties with the most intimate partner violence homicides.
Harris County has the Highest Number of Deaths in State followed by Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, El Paso and Hidalgo
In line with the previous years, Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, experienced the highest number of deaths (30). Next in descending order were Dallas County (9), which includes the city of Dallas, Tarrant County (6), which includes Fort Worth and Arlington and Bexar County (5), which includes the city of San Antonio. El Paso County experienced four deaths in 2012, an increase from previous years. Significantly, Hidalgo County experienced four fatalities; Hidalgo County includes the cities of Hidalgo and Alton and this county has a significantly lower population than the top five or indeed other counties with fewer fatalities. Travis County (3), which includes the city of Austin is the fifth largest county in the state and had three domestic violence murders.
Panhandle and South Plains Per Capita Death Rate Higher Than in Any of the Larger Urban Areas
Although urban intimate partner violence continues as a significant danger, one important trend in 2012 relates to the Panhandle and South Plains, areas with fewer overall residents and population density. Seven counties in this area, which had no reports of intimate partner homicides last year, had at least one homicide reported this year.
Potter County, which includes the city of Amarillo, and neighboring Moore County, reported one death each. On the South Plains, five of these counties (Bailey, Lamb, Hale, Lubbock, and Floyd) cover a contiguous area of almost 5,000 square miles with a combined population of approximately 350,000 (175,717 female residents); over 278,000 of these residents live in Lubbock County alone (144,464 being female). In this five county area, six deaths occurred, which results in a per capita death rate of 1 in 29,286 female residents, a much higher rate than in any of the larger urban areas.
These trends at the county level underscore the necessity for our state to continue to forge solutions that take seriously the diverse and complex differences victims and communities face in various parts of the state.
Victims Over the Age of 50 Killed in Increasing Numbers
An additional important trend to highlight relates to those victims over the age of 50. An examination of data regarding these women in the last ten years indicates a trend of increasing numbers of victims in these age groups.
Compared to 2011, in 2012, intimate partners killed more women between the ages of 50-59 (+4), 60-69 (+4), and over 80 (+2).
Increased numbers of murders of women over age 50 in the last few years warrant consideration as to how family violence services will need to adapt and expand as the Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, ages and becomes elderly. As our organizations prepare for an influx of clients in this aging demographic, it will become more necessary to seek opportunities to build collaborations and partnerships with community organizations within the aging network and Adult Protective Services, in order to:
• Gain understanding about the unique barriers and needs that older clients experience
• Increase outreach to the elder population and raise awareness of the dynamics of domestic violence and availability of resources among the elder population and the organizations that serve them.
The report also pays tribute to Texas victims by memorializing their story with a brief account of the crime. It includes core data and statistics culled from our analysis. “By the Numbers” is a summary, using charts and graphs to depict statistical information pertaining to fatalities, including some demographics.
“Domestic violence murders are knowable, identifiable and predictable,” said Gloria A. Terry, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence. “Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities recognizes all Texas family violence victims lost in this tragic crime. We hope the report will evoke deeper and more meaningful discussions about barriers and realities that affect the ability of women to escape danger within their relationships.“
The report released by the Texas Council on Family Violence and compiled from data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas law enforcement agencies and media reports list names of the victims and gives brief accounts of their deaths.
For the full report, narratives on each victim by county and “ Strategies for a Safer Texas” by region, click on the link below:
Some key statistics include:
- The victim’s ages ranged from age 15 to 84
- Harris County had the highest number of deaths at 30
- 74% of the women were killed at home
- 21 women had taken steps to leave
- 20 homicides within one to two days of a national holiday
- 15 bystanders or witnesses killed