The Motives for Murders
To actually commit a homicide is not an action most people do. The crime of murdering another human is not something people do for enjoyment or a hobby, unless they are a psychopath, which is why one could question why there were still 17,184 murders in the United States last year. Because committing murder is such a heinous act, something or someone really needs to motivate the killer to commit the crime. Criminals have stated many reasons for murdering people, but motives such as, revenge, domestic arguments, money or drug incidences, and alcohol related arguments are the most common. All these common motives, usually have something to do with the murderer and the victim knowing each other and that is quite common. According to the FBI’s “Crime in the United States 2011,” “In 2011, in incidents of murder for which the relationships of murder victims and offenders were known, 54.3 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.); 24.8 percent of victims were slain by family members.”
There are a lot of murders that are committed by people who are very close to the victims, so something major must have really happened for those murders to take place. When thinking about close relationships, the main one is marriage and family. Domestic arguments that lead to domestic abuse is the reason for a big portion of female homicides. The same FBI report states, “Of the female murder victims for whom the relationships to their offenders were known, 36.5 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.” Domestic violence is a horrible thing to happen, but arguments in relationships and at home, that lead to violence, is sadly one of the largest causes for murder in our country.
Along with relationships and marriages, a common belief that revenge murder after relationship issues, like cheating, happens a lot is untrue. Getting caught cheating on someone can make the other person in the relationship very angry and they might want to murder the person their girl or boy friend was cheating on, but not many actually act on their fantasies. In fact, in 2009 only 89 murders were committed out of sexual jealously.
Another major cause for homicides is actually from actions from other crimes. Two main crimes that leads to homicides, which also has to do with the motive of money, is robbery and burglaries. A lot of stealing crimes go into those two similar crimes, and sometimes when events go wrong, or too much is at stake, that’s when things can take a turn for the worse. Even a far more worse crime than stealing, rape, also leads to a percentage of homicides. The FBI reports, “Felony circumstances (rape, robbery, burglary, etc.) accounted for 23.1 percent of murders.” Robbery and burglary are two crimes in which the criminal is trying to steal something, mostly to gain off of it. Either if its money, or if its valuable items that can be sold for money, some people will do a lot for money, especially if they desperately need it.
Drugs and alcohol also can play a huge role in motives for homicides. First, drugs and alcohol can very well impair people’s thoughts and actions, in which then could lead to making someone more angry and possibly act on that anger. Even though drugs and alcohol can both impair people’s though processes, alcohol is much more involved in homicides than drugs like cocaine and heroin. A quote from the Alcohol Rehab Guide states, “In fact, about 40 percent of convicted murderers had used alcohol before or during the crime.” When under the influence, it can make people do something, like commit a crime, that they wouldn’t do if they were sober. Besides of drugs and alcohol making people impaired, the need for drugs can also make a motive for homicides. When people are addicted to drugs, they might get to a point where they will do anything so they can receive the drugs. This can lead to robbery, which could lead to a homicide, or they could have issues with their dealer, which could also lead to a homicide. Drug addiction is very serious and dangerous, and can make those addicted do very bad actions just so they can get the high they need.
Another cause for homicides is gang-related violence. Gang-related violence has had a horrible effect, mostly in large cities, in which they are responsible for a lot of crime. Unfortunately, some of the crime involved with gangs, is homicide. According to the National Gang Center, “The total number of gang homicides reported by respondents in the NYGS sample averaged nearly 2,000 annually from 2007 to 2012. During roughly the same time period (2007 to 2011), the FBI estimated, on average, more than 15,500 homicides across the United States. These estimates suggest that gang-related homicides typically accounted for around 13 percent of all homicides annually.” This statistic is significant because for the small amount of people who involved in gangs, the percent of gang-related homicides is very high.
Out of all the bad homicides that are criminal, there are a few that are justified. These justified homicides have motives for the safety of either themselves or for others. Many police shootings fall under this category. Also homicides by citizens who react in self defense are justified. According to the FBI report from 2011, “Law enforcement reported 653 justifiable homicides in 2011. Of those, law enforcement officers justifiably killed 393 felons, and private citizens justifiably killed 260 people during the commission of a crime.”
Altogether, most people are not just going out committing murder for the fun of it. To do something so drastically violent, there is usually a very strong motivation. There are many motives for people to commit a homicide, in which it might be because of anger, they might be to under the influence and act unexpectedly, the need to drugs, gang-related decisions, domestic problems, and self-defense.
“Alcohol Related Crimes – Statistics and Facts.” Alcohol Rehab Guide, http://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/crimes/.
Domonoske, Camila. “CDC: Half Of All Female Homicide Victims Are Killed By Intimate Partners.” NPR, NPR, 21 July 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/21/538518569/cdc-half-of-all-female-murder-victims-are-killed-by-intimate-partners.
“Expanded Homicide Data.” FBI, FBI, 20 Aug. 2012, ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expanded-homicide-data.
“National Youth Gang Survey Analysis.” Measuring the Extent of Gang Problems, http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/survey-analysis/measuring-the-extent-of-gang-problems.