Federal authorities in Nashville were expected to announce today the arrest of a convicted felon in the sale of the gun used to kill famed NFL quarterback Steve McNair. The case was a murder suicide, one of only a few committed by a woman. Based on recent data from 17 states, female homicide-suicides account for only 8.6 percent of the total, criminologist Marieke Liem told Crime & Justice News. The Washington-based Violence Policy Center found in a survey of news reports that about 95 percent of murder-suicides were perpetrated by men in 2007, a proportion that has stayed fairly constant since the center started keeping statistics in 1992. “It's very unusual for the woman to be a shooter in a murder-suicide,” the center’s Kristen Rand told Newsweek.
When women do kill, they're likely to kill someone they know well, says Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levine, and in cases of murder-suicide, they usually kill just one other person–as opposed to “family annihilators,” men who kill their entire family (or office or church group) before turning the gun on themselves. Both men and women who commit murder-suicide are often motivated by jealousy, says Louis Schlesinger, professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, though often to a pathological or even psychotic degree.