Statistically, murder has been a man’s activity. The numbers show men are much more likely than women to murder and also to be victims of murder. Thankfully, homicide, which is a law enforcement term and includes murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, and accidental killing, has been shown to be a rare occurrence. Deaths from heart disease, accidents, and pneumonia are all far more common, according to Jennifer Schwartz, multi-published professor of Criminology, Stratification, Communities/Urban Sociology.
However, wading through those stats, we find that men are mundane killers. They tend to shoot, stab, and/or beat their victims. Although women are a minute portion of what is a small number of killers, they get creative, concoct elaborate murder plots, use what they think are ingenious means to stalk their prey. This could be easily explained, as women are not as physically strong as men. Their first choice would not be to engage in a fight as a means to murder. Whereas, homicide might very well be the result when two men fight. As a writer, this fascinates me.
Typically, when women do murder, they kill those closest to them (spouses, lovers, family members). It’s all about relationships for the woman killer. Jealously and revenge are often sited motives for murders committed by women. The other is the collection of insurance money and also involves a victim the murderess is close to (a spouse, parent, a close friend, even their own child).
Women rarely use a gun to commit murder. Typically, a woman’s means to commit murder are poison (with arsenic high on the list) and arson.
During the roaring 20s and into the 1930s, Vera Renczi murdered the men in her life due to a fear of abandonment. She poisoned her husbands, lovers, and a son with arsenic, then placed their bodies in zinc-lined coffins in her wine cellar.
In the 1960s, church lady and a mother and grandmother, Janie Lou Gibbs, who once ran a day-care center, poisoned her three sons, a grandson, and her husband to collect life insurance.
Smothering is another women’s method of murder. A woman killer might smother a sleeping spouse, lover, parent, or child. Many might recall the movie The Burning Bed, with the abused spouse who burned her husband to death played by Farrah Fawcett. Women have been known to burn an entire house down to kill their victim.