Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such as manslaughter. Manslaughter is a killing committed in the absence of malice, brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity. Involuntary manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent, recklessness.
Most societies consider murder to be an extremely serious crime, and thus believe that the person charged should receive harsh punishments for the purposes of retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation. In most countries, a person convicted of murder generally faces a long-term prison sentence, possibly a life sentence; and in a few, the death penalty may be imposed.
The modern English word "murder" descends from the Proto-Indo-European "mrtró" which meant "to die". The Middle English mordre is a noun from Anglo-Saxon morðor and Old French murdre. Middle English mordre is a verb from Anglo-Saxon myrdrian and the Middle English noun.
when a person, of sound memory and discretion, unlawfully kills any reasonable creature in being and under the king's peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied.
The elements of common law murder are:
Unlawful – This distinguishes murder from killings that are done within the boundaries of law, such as capital punishment, justified self-defence, or the killing of enemy combatants by lawful combatants as well as causing collateral damage to non-combatants during a war.
Killing – At common law life ended with cardiopulmonary arrest – the total and irreversible cessation of blood circulation and respiration. With advances in medical technology courts have adopted irreversible cessation of all brain function as marking the end of life.
With malice aforethought – Originally malice aforethought carried its everyday meaning – a deliberate and premeditated (prior intent) killing of another motivated by ill will. Murder necessarily required that an appreciable time pass between the formation and execution of the intent to kill. The courts broadened the scope of murder by eliminating the requirement of actual premeditation and deliberation as well as true malice. All that was required for malice aforethought to exist is that the perpetrator act with one of the four states of mind that constitutes "malice".
The four states of mind recognized as constituting "malice" are:
Under state of mind (i), intent to kill, the deadly weapon rule applies. Thus, if the defendant intentionally uses a deadly weapon or instrument against the victim, such use authorizes a permissive inference of intent to kill. In other words, "intent follows the bullet". Examples of deadly weapons and instruments include but are not limited to guns, knives, deadly toxins or chemicals or gases and even vehicles when intentionally used to harm one or more victims.
Under state of mind (iii), an "abandoned and malignant heart", the killing must result from the defendant's conduct involving a reckless indifference to human life and a conscious disregard of an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury. In Australian jurisdictions, the unreasonable risk must amount to a foreseen probability of death (or grievous bodily harm in most states), as opposed to possibility.
Under state of mind (iv), the felony-murder doctrine, the felony committed must be an inherently dangerous felony, such as burglary, arson, rape, robbery or kidnapping. Importantly, the underlying felony cannot be a lesser included offense such as assault, otherwise all criminal homicides would be murder as all are felonies.
As with most legal terms, the precise definition of murder varies between jurisdictions and is usually codified in some form of legislation. Even when the legal distinction between murder and manslaughter is clear, it is not unknown for a jury to find a murder defendant guilty of the lesser offence. The jury might sympathise with the defendant (e.g. in a crime of passion, or in the case of a bullied victim who kills their tormentor), and the jury may wish to protect the defendant from a sentence of life imprisonment or execution.
The most common division is between first- and second-degree murder. Generally, second-degree murder is common law murder, and first-degree is an aggravated form. The aggravating factors of first-degree murder depend on the jurisdiction, but may include a specific intent to kill, premeditation, or deliberation. In some, murder committed by acts such as strangulation, poisoning, or lying in wait are also treated as first-degree murder. A few states in the U.S. further distinguish third-degree murder, but they differ significantly in which kinds of murders they classify as second-degree versus third-degree. For example, Minnesota defines third-degree murder as depraved-heart murder, whereas Florida defines third-degree murder as felony murder (except when the underlying felony is specifically listed in the definition of first-degree murder).
Some jurisdictions also distinguish premeditated murder. This is the crime of wrongfully and intentionally causing the death of another human being (also known as murder) after rationally considering the timing or method of doing so, in order to either increase the likelihood of success, or to evade detection or apprehension. State laws in the United States vary as to definitions of "premeditation". In some states, premeditation may be construed as taking place mere seconds before the murder. Premeditated murder is one of the most serious forms of homicide, and is punished more severely than manslaughter or other types of murder, often with a life sentence without the possibility of parole, or in some countries, the death penalty. In the U.S, federal law ( ) criminalizes premeditated murder, felony murder and second-degree murder committed under situations where federal jurisdiction applies. In Canada, the Criminal Code classifies murder as either 1st- or 2nd-degree. The former type of murder is often called premeditated murder, although premeditation is not the only way murder can be classified as first-degree.
According to Blackstone, English common law identified murder as a public wrong. According to common law, murder is considered to be malum in se, that is an act which is evil within itself. An act such as murder is wrong or evil by its very nature. And it is the very nature of the act which does not require any specific detailing or definition in the law to consider murder a crime.
Some jurisdictions still take a common law view of murder. In such jurisdictions, what is considered to be murder is defined by precedent case law or previous decisions of the courts of law. However, although the common law is by nature flexible and adaptable, in the interests both of certainty and of securing convictions, most common law jurisdictions have codified their criminal law and now have statutory definitions of murder.
Although laws vary by country, there are circumstances of exclusion that are common in many legal systems.
All jurisdictions require that the victim be a natural person; that is, a human being who was still alive before being murdered. In other words, under the law one cannot murder a corpse, a corporation, a non-human animal, or any other non-human organism such as a plant or bacterium.
California's murder statute, Penal Code Section 187, was interpreted by the Supreme Court of California in 1994 as not requiring any proof of the viability of the fetus as a prerequisite to a murder conviction. This holding has two implications. The first is a defendant in California can be convicted of murder for killing a fetus which the mother herself could have terminated without committing a crime. The second, as stated by Justice Stanley Mosk in his dissent, is that because women carrying nonviable fetuses may not be visibly pregnant, it may be possible for a defendant to be convicted of intentionally murdering a person they did not know existed.
Some countries allow conditions that "affect the balance of the mind" to be regarded as mitigating circumstances. This means that a person may be found guilty of "manslaughter" on the basis of "diminished responsibility" rather than being found guilty of murder, if it can be proved that the killer was suffering from a condition that affected their judgment at the time. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and medication side-effects are examples of conditions that may be taken into account when assessing responsibility.
Mental disorder may apply to a wide range of disorders including psychosis caused by schizophrenia and dementia, and excuse the person from the need to undergo the stress of a trial as to liability. Usually, sociopathy and other personality disorders are not legally considered insanity, because of the belief they are the result of free will in many societies. In some jurisdictions, following the pre-trial hearing to determine the extent of the disorder, the defence of "not guilty by reason of insanity" may be used to get a not guilty verdict. This defence has two elements:
Under New York law, for example:
§ 40.15 Mental disease or defect. In any prosecution for an offense, it is an affirmative defence that when the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct, he lacked criminal responsibility by reason of mental disease or defect. Such lack of criminal responsibility means that at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect, he lacked substantial capacity to know or appreciate either: 1. The nature and consequences of such conduct; or 2. That such conduct was wrong.
Under the French Penal Code:
- A person is not criminally liable who, when the act was committed, was suffering from a psychological or neuropsychological disorder which destroyed his discernment or his ability to control his actions.
- A person who, at the time he acted, was suffering from a psychological or neuropsychological disorder which reduced his discernment or impeded his ability to control his actions, remains punishable; however, the court shall take this into account when it decides the penalty and determines its regime.
Those who successfully argue a defence based on a mental disorder are usually referred to mandatory clinical treatment until they are certified safe to be released back into the community, rather than prison. A criminal defendant is often presented with the option of pleading "not guilty by reason of insanity". Thus, a finding of insanity results in a not-guilty verdict, although the defendant is placed in a state treatment facility where they could be kept for years or even decades.
Postpartum depression (also known as post-natal depression) is recognized in some countries as a mitigating factor in cases of infanticide. According to Dr. Susan Friedman, "Two dozen nations have infanticide laws that decrease the penalty for mothers who kill their children of up to one year of age. The United States does not have such a law, but mentally ill mothers may plead not guilty by reason of insanity." In the law of the Republic of Ireland, infanticide was made a separate crime from murder in 1949, applicable for the mother of a baby under one year old where "the balance of her mind was disturbed by reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to the child or by reason of the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of the child". Since independence, death sentences for murder in such cases had always been commuted; the new act was intended "to eliminate all the terrible ritual of the black cap and the solemn words of the judge pronouncing sentence of death in those cases ... where it is clear to the Court and to everybody, except perhaps the unfortunate accused, that the sentence will never be carried out." In Russia, murder of a newborn child by the mother has been separate crime since 1996.
For a killing to be considered murder in nine out of fifty states in the US, there normally needs to be an element of intent. A defendant may argue that they took precautions not to kill, that the death could not have been anticipated, or was unavoidable. As a general rule, manslaughter constitutes reckless killing, but manslaughter also includes criminally negligent (i.e. grossly negligent) homicide. Unintentional killing that results from an involuntary action generally cannot constitute murder. After examining the evidence, a judge or jury (depending on the jurisdiction) would determine whether the killing was intentional or unintentional.
In those jurisdictions using the Uniform Penal Code, such as California, diminished capacity may be a defence. For example, Dan White used this defence to obtain a manslaughter conviction, instead of murder, in the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Afterward, California amended its penal code to provide "As a matter of public policy there shall be no defense of diminished capacity, diminished responsibility, or irresistible impulse in a criminal action...."
Murder with specified aggravating circumstances is often punished more harshly. Depending on the jurisdiction, such circumstances may include:
In the United States and Canada, these murders are referred to as first-degree or aggravated murders. Murder, under English criminal law, always carries a mandatory life sentence, but is not classified into degrees. Penalties for murder committed under aggravating circumstances are often higher, under English law, than the 15-year minimum non-parole period that otherwise serves as a starting point for a murder committed by an adult.
A legal doctrine in some common law jurisdictions broadens the crime of murder: when an offender kills in the commission of a dangerous crime, (regardless of intent), he/she is guilty of murder. The felony murder rule is often justified by its supporters as a means of deterring dangerous felonies, but the case of Ryan Holle shows it can be used very widely.
In some common law jurisdictions, a defendant accused of murder is not guilty if the victim survives for longer than one year and one day after the attack. This reflects the likelihood that if the victim dies, other factors will have contributed to the cause of death, breaking the chain of causation; and also means that the responsible person does not have a charge of murder "hanging over their head indefinitely". Subject to any statute of limitations, the accused could still be charged with an offence reflecting the seriousness of the initial assault.
With advances in modern medicine, most countries have abandoned a fixed time period and test causation on the facts of the case. This is known as "delayed death" and cases where this was applied or was attempted to be applied go back to at least 1966.
In England and Wales, the "year-and-a-day rule" was abolished by the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996. However, if death occurs three years or more after the original attack then prosecution can take place only with the Attorney-General's approval.
In the United States, many jurisdictions have abolished the rule as well. Abolition of the rule has been accomplished by enactment of statutory criminal codes, which had the effect of displacing the common-law definitions of crimes and corresponding defences. In 2001 the Supreme Court of the United States held that retroactive application of a state supreme court decision abolishing the year-and-a-day rule did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of Article I of the United States Constitution.
The potential effect of fully abolishing the rule can be seen in the case of 74-year-old William Barnes, charged with the murder of a Philadelphia police officer Walter Barkley, who he'd shot nearly 41 years before. Barnes had served 16 years in prison for attempting to murder Barkley, but when the policeman died on August 19, 2007, this was alleged to be from complications of the wounds suffered from the shooting – and Barnes was charged with his murder. He was acquitted on May 24, 2010.
Martin Daly and Margo Wilson of McMaster University have claimed that several aspects of homicides, including the genetic relations or proximity between murderers and their victims, (as in the Cinderella effect), can often be explained by the evolution theory or evolutionary psychology.
In the Abrahamic religions, the first ever murder was committed by Cain against his brother Abel out of jealousy. In the past, certain types of homicide were lawful and justified. Georg Oesterdiekhoff wrote:
Evans-Pritchard says about the Nuer from Sudan: "Homicide is not forbidden, and Nuer do not think it wrong to kill a man in fair fight. On the contrary, a man who slays another in combat is admired for his courage and skill." (Evans-Pritchard 1956: 195) This statement is true for most African tribes, for pre-modern Europeans, for Indigenous Australians, and for Native Americans, according to ethnographic reports from all over the world. ... Homicides rise to incredible numbers among headhunter cultures such as the Papua. When a boy is born, the father has to kill a man. He needs a name for his child and can receive it only by a man, he himself has murdered. When a man wants to marry, he must kill a man. When a man dies, his family again has to kill a man.
In many such societies the redress was not via a legal system, but by blood revenge, although there might also be a form of payment that could be made instead—such as the weregild which in early Germanic society could be paid to the victim's family in lieu of their right of revenge.
One of the oldest-known prohibitions against murder appears in the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu written sometime between 2100 and 2050 BC. The code states, "If a man commits a murder, that man must be killed."
In Judeo-Christian traditions, the prohibition against murder is one of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses in (Exodus: 20v13) and (Deuteronomy 5v17). The Vulgate and subsequent early English translations of the Bible used the term secretly killeth his neighbour or smiteth his neighbour secretly rather than murder for the Latin clam percusserit proximum. Later editions such as Young's Literal Translation and the World English Bible have translated the Latin occides simply as murder rather than the alternatives of kill, assassinate, fall upon, or slay.
In Islam according to the Qur'an, one of the greatest sins is to kill a human being who has committed no fault. "For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind."[Quran 5:32] "And those who cry not unto any other god along with Allah, nor take the life which Allah hath forbidden save in (course of) justice, nor commit adultery – and whoso doeth this shall pay the penalty."[Quran 25:68]
The term assassin derives from Hashshashin, a militant Ismaili Shi'ite sect, active from the 8th to 14th centuries. This mystic secret society killed members of the Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuq and Crusader elite for political and religious reasons. The Thuggee cult that plagued India was devoted to Kali, the goddess of death and destruction. According to some estimates the Thuggees murdered 1 million people between 1740 and 1840. The Aztecs believed that without regular offerings of blood the sun god Huitzilopochtli would withdraw his support for them and destroy the world as they knew it. According to Ross Hassig, author of Aztec Warfare, "between 10,000 and 80,400 persons" were sacrificed in the 1487 re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan.
Southern slave codes did make willful killing of a slave illegal in most cases. For example, the 1860 Mississippi case of Oliver v. State charged the defendant with murdering his own slave. In 1811, the wealthy white planter Arthur Hodge was hanged for murdering several of his slaves on his plantation in the British West Indies.
The World Health Organization reported in October 2002 that a person is murdered every 60 seconds. An estimated 520,000 people were murdered in 2000 around the globe. Another study estimated the worldwide murder rate at 456,300 in 2010 with a 35% increase since 1990. Two-fifths of them were young people between the ages of 10 and 29 who were killed by other young people. Because murder is the least likely crime to go unreported, statistics of murder are seen as a bellwether of overall crime rates.
Murder rates vary greatly among countries and societies around the world. In the Western world, murder rates in most countries have declined significantly during the 20th century and are now between 1 and 4 cases per 100,000 people per year.
Murder rates in jurisdictions such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Germany are among the lowest in the world, around 0.3–1 cases per 100,000 people per year; the rate of the United States is among the highest of developed countries, around 4.5 in 2014, with rates in larger cities sometimes over 40 per 100,000. The top ten highest murder rates are in Honduras (91.6 per 100,000), El Salvador, Ivory Coast, Venezuela, Belize, Jamaica, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guatemala, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Zambia. (UNODC, 2011 – full table here).
The following absolute murder counts per-country are not comparable because they are not adjusted by each country's total population. Nonetheless, they are included here for reference, with 2010 used as the base year (they may or may not include justifiable homicide, depending on the jurisdiction). There were 52,260 murders in Brazil, consecutively elevating the record set in 2009. Over half a million people were shot to death in Brazil between 1979 and 2003. 33,335 murder cases were registered across India, about 19,000 murders committed in Russia, approximately 17,000 murders in Colombia (the murder rate was 38 per 100,000 people, in 2008 murders went down to 15,000), approximately 16,000 murders in South Africa, approximately 15,000 murders in the United States, approximately 26,000 murders in Mexico, approximately 13,000 murders in Venezuela, approximately 4,000 murders in El Salvador, approximately 1,400 murders in Jamaica, approximately 550 murders in Canada and approximately 470 murders in Trinidad and Tobago. Pakistan reported 12,580 murders.
In the United States, 666,160 people were killed between 1960 and 1996. Approximately 90% of murders in the US are committed by males. Between 1976 and 2005, 23.5% of all murder victims and 64.8% of victims murdered by intimate partners were female. For women in the US, homicide is the leading cause of death in the workplace.
In the US, murder is the leading cause of death for African American males aged 15 to 34. Between 1976 and 2008, African Americans were victims of 329,825 homicides. In 2006, Federal Bureau of Investigation's Supplementary Homicide Report indicated that nearly half of the 14,990 murder victims that year were Black (7421). In the year 2007, there were 3,221 black victims and 3,587 white victims of non-negligent homicides. While 2,905 of the black victims were killed by a black offender, 2,918 of the white victims were killed by white offenders. There were 566 white victims of black offenders and 245 black victims of white offenders. The "white" category in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) includes non-black Hispanics. In London in 2006, 75% of the victims of gun crime and 79% of the suspects were "from the African/Caribbean community". Murder demographics are affected by the improvement of trauma care, which has resulted in reduced lethality of violent assaults – thus the murder rate may not necessarily indicate the overall level of social violence.
Development of murder rates over time in different countries is often used by both supporters and opponents of capital punishment and gun control. Using properly filtered data, it is possible to make the case for or against either of these issues. For example, one could look at murder rates in the United States from 1950 to 2000, and notice that those rates went up sharply shortly after a moratorium on death sentences was effectively imposed in the late 1960s. This fact has been used to argue that capital punishment serves as a deterrent and, as such, it is morally justified. Capital punishment opponents frequently counter that the United States has much higher murder rates than Canada and most European Union countries, although all those countries have abolished the death penalty. Overall, the global pattern is too complex, and on average, the influence of both these factors may not be significant and could be more social, economic, and cultural.
Despite the immense improvements in forensics in the past few decades, the fraction of murders solved has decreased in the United States, from 90% in 1960 to 61% in 2007. Solved murder rates in major U.S. cities varied in 2007 from 36% in Boston, Massachusetts to 76% in San Jose, California. Major factors affecting the arrest rate include witness cooperation and the number of people assigned to investigate the case.
According to scholar Pieter Spierenburg homicide rates per 100,000 in Europe have fallen over the centuries, from 35 per 100,000 in medieval times, to 20 in 1500 AD, 5 in 1700, to below two per 100,000 in 1900.
In the United States, murder rates have been higher and have fluctuated. They fell below 2 per 100,000 by 1900, rose during the first half of the century, dropped in the years following World War II, and bottomed out at 4.0 in 1957 before rising again. The rate stayed in 9 to 10 range most of the period from 1972 to 1994, before falling to 5 in present times. The increase since 1957 would have been even greater if not for the significant improvements in medical techniques and emergency response times, which mean that more and more attempted homicide victims survive. According to one estimate, if the lethality levels of criminal assaults of 1964 still applied in 1993, the country would have seen the murder rate of around 26 per 100,000, almost triple the actually observed rate of 9.5 per 100,000.
A similar, but less pronounced pattern has been seen in major European countries as well. The murder rate in the United Kingdom fell to 1 per 100,000 by the beginning of the 20th century and as low as 0.62 per 100,000 in 1960, and was at 1.28 per 100,000 as of 2009. The murder rate in France (excluding Corsica) bottomed out after World War II at less than 0.4 per 100,000, quadrupling to 1.6 per 100,000 since then.
The specific factors driving this dynamics in murder rates are complex and not universally agreed upon. Much of the raise in the U.S. murder rate during the first half of the 20th century is generally thought to be attributed to gang violence associated with Prohibition. Since most murders are committed by young males, the near simultaneous low in the murder rates of major developed countries circa 1960 can be attributed to low birth rates during the Great Depression and World War II. Causes of further moves are more controversial. Some of the more exotic factors claimed to affect murder rates include the availability of abortion and the likelihood of chronic exposure to lead during childhood (due to the use of leaded paint in houses and tetraethyllead as a gasoline additive in internal combustion engines).
In many countries, in news reports, journalists are typically careful not to call a killing a murder until the perpetrator is convicted of such. After arrest, journalists write that the person was "arrested on suspicion of murder". When a prosecutor files charges, the accused is referred to as an "accused murderer".
The longstanding official deference to the viewpoint of police officers is enshrined in the laws of some states and Supreme Court rulings.
Thou dost not murder.
You shall not murder.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie also wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and, under the pen name Mary Westmacott, six romances. In 1971 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature.Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. She was initially an unsuccessful writer with six consecutive rejections, but this changed when The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, was published in 1920. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.
Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world's most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare's works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for longest initial run. It opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952, and as of April 2019 is still running after more than 27,000 performances.In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award. Later the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play.
In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel ever by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers' Association. On 15 September 2015, coinciding with her 125th birthday, And Then There Were None was named the "World's Favourite Christie" in a vote sponsored by the author's estate. Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics, and more than thirty feature films have been based on her work.Andrew Cunanan
Andrew Phillip Cunanan (August 31, 1969 – July 23, 1997) was an American serial killer known to have murdered five people, including Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace and Chicago real estate developer Lee Miglin, during a three-month period in mid-1997. Cunanan's string of murders ended on July 23 of that year with his suicide by firearm.
In his final years, Cunanan lived in the greater San Diego area without a job. He befriended wealthy older men and spent their money. To impress acquaintances in the local gay community, he boasted about social events at clubs and often paid the check at restaurants. One millionaire friend had broken up with Cunanan in 1996, the year prior to his death.Assassination of John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated on November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time in Dallas, Texas, while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza. Kennedy was riding with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally's wife Nellie when he was fatally shot by former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald firing in ambush from a nearby building. Governor Connally was seriously wounded in the attack. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where President Kennedy was pronounced dead about thirty minutes after the shooting; Connally recovered from his injuries.
Oswald was arrested by the Dallas Police Department 70 minutes after the initial shooting. Oswald was charged under Texas state law with the murder of Kennedy as well as that of Dallas policeman J. D. Tippit, who had been fatally shot a short time after the assassination. At 11:21 a.m. November 24, 1963, as live television cameras were covering his transfer from the city jail to the county jail, Oswald was fatally shot in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby. Oswald was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he soon died. Ruby was convicted of Oswald's murder, though it was later overturned on appeal, and Ruby died in prison in 1967 while awaiting a new trial.
After a ten-month investigation, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald assassinated Kennedy, that Oswald had acted entirely alone, and that Ruby had acted alone in killing Oswald. Kennedy was the eighth US President to die in office and the fourth (following Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) to be assassinated. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson automatically assumed the Presidency upon Kennedy's death.A later investigation, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) agreed with the Warren Commission that the injuries that Kennedy and Connally sustained were caused by Oswald's three rifle shots, but they also concluded that Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy" as analysis of a dictabelt audio recording pointed to the existence of an additional gunshot and therefore "... a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President." The Committee was not able to identify any individuals or groups involved with the possible conspiracy. In addition, the HSCA found that the original federal investigations were "seriously flawed" with respect to information-sharing and the possibility of conspiracy. As recommended by the HSCA, the acoustic evidence indicating conspiracy was subsequently re-examined and rejected.In light of the investigative reports determining that "reliable acoustic data do not support a conclusion that there was a second gunman," the U.S. Justice Department concluded active investigations and stated "that no persuasive evidence can be identified to support the theory of a conspiracy in ... the assassination of President Kennedy." However, Kennedy's assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios. Polls conducted from 1966 to 2004 found that up to 80 percent of Americans suspected that there was a plot or cover-up.Black Dahlia
Elizabeth Short (July 29, 1924 – January 14 or 15, 1947), known posthumously as the "Black Dahlia," was an American woman who was found murdered in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Her case became highly publicized due to the graphic nature of the crime, which included her corpse having been mutilated and bisected at the waist.
A native of Boston, Short spent her early life in Medford, Massachusetts and Florida before relocating to California, where her father lived. It is commonly held that Short was an aspiring actress, though she had no known acting credits or jobs during her time in Los Angeles. She would acquire the nickname of the Black Dahlia posthumously (after the owner of a drugstore in Long Beach, California told reporters that male customers had that name for her), as newspapers of the period often nicknamed particularly lurid crimes; the term may have originated from a film noir murder mystery, The Blue Dahlia, released in April 1946. After the discovery of her body on January 15, 1947, the Los Angeles Police Department began an extensive investigation that produced over 150 suspects, but yielded no arrests.
Short's unsolved murder and the details surrounding it have had a lasting cultural intrigue, generating various theories and public speculation. Her life and death have been the basis of numerous books and films, and her murder is frequently cited as one of the most famous unsolved murders in American history, as well as one of the oldest unsolved cases in Los Angeles County. It has likewise been credited by historians as one of the first major crimes in post-World War II America to capture national attention.Contract killing
Contract killing is a form of murder in which one party hires another party (often called a hitman) to kill a target individual or group of people. It involves an illegal agreement between two or more parties in which one party agrees to kill the target in exchange for some form of payment, monetary or otherwise. Either party may be a person, group, or an organization. In the United States, the crime is punishable by 15 years to life in a state penitentiary. Contract killing has been associated with organized crime, government conspiracies, and vendettas. For example, in the United States, the gang Murder, Inc. committed hundreds of murders on behalf of the National Crime Syndicate during the 1930s and 1940s.
Contract killing provides the hiring party with the advantage of not having to commit the actual killing, making it more difficult for law enforcement to connect said party with the murder. The likelihood that authorities will establish that party's guilt for the committed crime, especially due to lack of forensic evidence linked to the contracting party, makes the case more difficult to attribute to the hiring party.Death of JonBenét Ramsey
JonBenét Patricia Ramsey (; August 6, 1990 – December 25, 1996) was an American child beauty queen who was killed in her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. A lengthy handwritten ransom note was found in the house, and JonBenét's father John found her body in the basement of their house about eight hours after she had been reported missing. She sustained a broken skull from a blow to the head and had been strangled; a garrote was found tied around her neck. The autopsy report stated that the official cause of death was "asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma." Her death was ruled a homicide. The case generated nationwide public and media interest, in part because her mother Patsy Ramsey (herself a former beauty queen) had entered JonBenét in a series of child beauty pageants. The crime is still unsolved and remains an open investigation with the Boulder Police Department.
The police initially suspected that the ransom note had been written by JonBenét's mother, and that the note and appearance of the child's body had been staged by her parents in order to cover up the crime. However, in 1998, the District Attorney said that due to a new DNA analysis, none of the immediate family members were under suspicion for the crime. Also in 1998, the police and the DA both said that JonBenét's brother Burke, who was nine years old at the time of her death, was not a suspect. The Ramseys gave several televised interviews but resisted police questioning except on their own terms. In October 2013, unsealed court documents revealed that a 1999 grand jury had recommended filing charges against JonBenét's parents for permitting the child to be in a threatening situation. John and Patsy were also accused of hindering the prosecution of an unidentified person who had "committed ... the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse resulting in death". However, the DA determined that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a successful indictment.In 2002, the DA's successor took over investigation of the case from the police and primarily pursued an alternative theory that an intruder had committed the killing. In 2003, trace DNA that was taken from the victim's clothes was found to belong to an unknown male; this discovery induced the DA to send the Ramseys a letter of apology in 2008, declaring the family "completely cleared." In February 2009, the Boulder police took the case back from the DA and reopened the investigation.Media coverage of the case has focused on JonBenét's brief beauty pageant career, as well as her parents' wealth and the unusual evidence found in the case. Media reports have also questioned how the police handled the case. Ramsey family members and their friends have filed defamation suits against several media organizations.Gary Ridgway
Gary Leon Ridgway (born February 18, 1949), also known as the Green River Killer, is an American serial killer. He was initially convicted of 48 separate murders. As part of his plea bargain, another conviction was added, bringing the total number of convictions to 49, making him the most prolific serial killer in United States history according to confirmed murders. He killed myriad teenage girls and women in the state of Washington during the 1980s and 1990s.Most of Ridgway's victims were alleged to be sex workers and other women in vulnerable circumstances, including underage runaways. The press gave him his nickname after the first five victims were found in the Green River before his identity was known. He strangled his victims, usually by hand but sometimes using ligatures. After strangling them, he would dump their bodies in forested and overgrown areas in King County, often returning to the bodies to have sexual intercourse with them.On November 30, 2001, as Ridgway was leaving the Kenworth truck factory where he worked in Renton, Washington, he was arrested for the murders of four women whose cases were linked to him through DNA evidence. As part of a plea bargain wherein he agreed to disclose the locations of still-missing women, he was spared the death penalty and received a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.Homicide
Homicide is the act of one human killing another. A homicide requires only a volitional act by another person that results in death, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negligent acts even if there is no intent to cause harm. Homicides can be divided into many overlapping legal categories, including murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, killing in war (either following the laws of war or as a war crime), euthanasia, and capital punishment, depending on the circumstances of the death. These different types of homicides are often treated very differently in human societies; some are considered crimes, while others are permitted or even ordered by the legal system.How to Get Away with Murder
How to Get Away with Murder is an American drama television series that premiered on ABC on September 25, 2014. The series was created by Peter Nowalk, and produced by Shonda Rhimes and ABC Studios. The series airs on ABC as part of a night of programming, all under Rhimes's Shondaland production company.Viola Davis stars as Annalise Keating, a law professor at a prestigious Philadelphia university who, with five of her students, becomes entwined in a murder plot. The series features an ensemble cast with Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, and Karla Souza as Keating's students, Charlie Weber and Liza Weil as her employees, and Billy Brown as a detective with the Philadelphia Police Department, who is Annalise's lover. From the third season onward, Conrad Ricamora was promoted to the main cast after recurring heavily in the first two seasons.For her portrayal, Davis has received critical acclaim; she became the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, also winning two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and the Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. Davis has also received nominations from the Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Television Series, the Critics' Choice Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series, and the Television Critics Association at the TCA Awards for Individual Achievement in Drama. Other cast members have also received recognition for their performances, with Enoch and King being nominated by the NAACP as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at the GLAAD Awards.
On May 11, 2018, ABC renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on September 27, 2018.Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (; May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994), also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster, was an American serial killer and sex offender who committed the rape, murder, and dismemberment of 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts—typically all or part of the skeleton.Although he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder, Dahmer was found to be legally sane at his trial. He was convicted of 15 of the 16 murders he had committed in Wisconsin, and was sentenced to 15 terms of life imprisonment on February 15, 1992. He was later sentenced to a 16th term of life imprisonment for an additional homicide committed in Ohio in 1978.
On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution.John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994) was an American serial killer and rapist who sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois (a part of metropolitan Chicago).
All of Gacy's known murders were committed inside his Norwood Park ranch house. His victims were typically induced to his address by force or deception, and all except one of his victims were murdered by either asphyxiation or strangulation with a makeshift tourniquet, as his first victim was stabbed to death. Gacy buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space of his home. Three other victims were buried elsewhere on his property, while the bodies of his last four known victims were discarded in the Des Plaines River.
Convicted of 33 murders, Gacy was sentenced to death on March 13, 1980 for 12 of those murders. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center on May 10, 1994.
Gacy became known as the "Killer Clown" because of his charitable services at fund-raising events, parades, and children's parties where he would dress as "Pogo the Clown" or "Patches the Clown", characters he had devised.List of countries by intentional homicide rate
List of countries by UNODC homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants. The reliability of underlying national murder rate data may vary. Only UNODC data is used in the main table below. In some cases it is not as up to date as other sources. See farther down as to why its data is used over other sources.
Research suggests that intentional homicide demographics are affected by changes in trauma care, leading to changed lethality of violent assaults, so the intentional homicide rate may not necessarily indicate the overall level of societal violence. They may also be under-reported for political reasons.A study undertaken by the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development estimated that there were approximately 490,000 intentional homicides in 2004. The study estimated that the global rate was 7.6 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants for 2004. UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) reported a global average intentional homicide rate of 6.2 per 100,000 population for 2012 (in their report titled "Global Study on Homicide 2013"). UNODC calculated a rate of 6.9 in 2010.Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th century BCE.The definition of manslaughter differs among legal jurisdictions.Mass murder
Mass murder is the act of murdering a number of people, typically simultaneously or over a relatively short period of time and in close geographic proximity. The FBI defines mass murder as murdering four or more people during an event with no "cooling-off period" between the murders. A mass murder typically occurs in a single location where one or more people kill several others.A mass murder may be committed by individuals or organizations whereas a spree killing is committed by one or two individuals. Mass murderers differ from spree killers, who kill at two or more locations with almost no time break between murders and are not defined by the number of victims, and serial killers, who may kill people over long periods of time. Mass murder is a hypernym of genocide, which requires additional criteria.Murder, She Wrote
Murder, She Wrote is an American crime drama television series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes from 1984 to 1996 on the CBS network. It was followed by four TV films. Among the most successful and longest-running television shows in history, it averaged more than 30 million viewers per week in its prime (sometimes hitting above 40 million viewers), and was a staple of the CBS Sunday night lineup for a decade. In syndication, the series is still highly successful throughout the world.
Lansbury was nominated for ten Golden Globes and 12 Emmy Awards for her work on Murder, She Wrote. She holds the record for the most Golden Globe nominations and wins for Best Actress in a television drama series and the most Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Murder, She Wrote, with those nominations netting her four Golden Globe awards. The series received three nominations in the Outstanding Drama Series category at the Emmys. It was nominated for a Golden Globe in the same category six times and won twice.
After the series finished in 1996, four TV movies were released between 1997 and 2003. In 2009, a point-and-click video game was released for the PC platform, followed in 2012 by a sequel. A spin-off book series continues publication at present.Murder of John Lennon
On the evening of 8 December 1980, the English musician John Lennon, formerly of the Beatles, was shot and killed in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City. The perpetrator was Mark David Chapman, a recently unemployed resident of Hawaii who was incensed by Lennon's lifestyle and public statements, especially his songs "Imagine" and "God" and his much-publicized remark about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus". Weeks before the murder, Lennon released his first album since 1975, Double Fantasy, which had marked a comeback for himself.
Chapman planned the killing over the course of several months and arrived in New York City two days prior. He began waiting for Lennon at the Dakota on the morning of 8 December. During the afternoon, he met Lennon, who signed his copy of Double Fantasy before leaving for a recording session at Record Plant Studio. Around 10:50 p.m., Lennon returned with his wife Yoko Ono. From the street behind them, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back and shoulder, puncturing his left lung and left subclavian artery. Chapman remained at the scene and was promptly arrested. Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A worldwide outpouring of grief ensued on an unprecedented scale. The first media report of Lennon's death to a US national audience was announced by sportscaster Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football. Crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota, and at least three Beatles fans committed suicide. Among the affected was friend Harry Nilsson, who largely retired from the music industry to campaign for gun control, and John Hinckley Jr., whose attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan was partly motivated by Lennon's death. The event also inspired songs, films, physical memorials, annual gatherings, and other commemorations. The 2016 biographical film The Lennon Report was created to dispel misconceptions about the nurses and doctors who tried to resuscitate Lennon, while two other films center on Chapman and the murder: The Killing of John Lennon (2006) and Chapter 27 (2007).
Lennon was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York on 12 December; the ashes were given to Ono, who chose not to hold a funeral for him. Chapman plead guilty to the murder and was given a reduced sentence of 20-years-to-life imprisonment. He has been denied parole ten times since becoming eligible in 2000.O. J. Simpson murder case
The O. J. Simpson murder case (officially People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson) was a criminal trial held at the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Former National Football League (NFL) player, broadcaster, and actor O. J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder for the June 12, 1994, slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. On the morning of June 13, 1994, the couple was found stabbed to death outside Brown's condominium in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Simpson was a person of interest in their murders. He did not turn himself in, and on June 17 he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV owned and driven by his friend Al Cowlings. TV stations interrupted coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals to broadcast the incident. The pursuit was watched live by an estimated 95 million people. The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history. The trial—often characterized as the trial of the century because of its international publicity—spanned eleven months, from the jury's swearing-in on November 9, 1994. Opening statements were made on January 24, 1995, and the verdict was announced on October 3, 1995, when Simpson was acquitted on two counts of murder. Following his acquittal, no additional arrests related to the murders have been made, and the crime remains unsolved to this day. According to USA Today, the case has been described as the "most publicized" criminal trial in history.Simpson was represented by a very high-profile defense team, also referred to as the "Dream Team", which was initially led by Robert Shapiro and subsequently directed by Johnnie Cochran. The team also included F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, and Gerald Uelmen. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were two additional attorneys who specialized in DNA evidence.
Deputy District Attorneys Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden thought that they had a strong case against Simpson, but Cochran was able to convince the jurors that there was reasonable doubt concerning the validity of the State's DNA evidence, which was a relatively new form of evidence in trials at that time. The reasonable doubt theory included evidence that the blood sample had allegedly been mishandled by lab scientists and technicians, and there were questionable circumstances that surrounded other court exhibits. Cochran and the defense team also alleged other misconduct by the LAPD related to systemic racism and the actions of Detective Mark Fuhrman. Simpson's celebrity status, racial issues, and the lengthy televised trial riveted national attention. By the end of the trial, national surveys indicated dramatic differences of opinion between black and white Americans in the assessment of Simpson's guilt or innocence.The immediate reaction to the verdict was notable for its division along racial lines. A poll of Los Angeles County residents showed that most African Americans felt that justice had been served by the "not guilty" verdict, while the majority of whites and Latinos expressed an opposite opinion on the matter.After the trial, the families of Brown and Goldman filed a civil lawsuit against Simpson. On February 4, 1997, the jury unanimously found Simpson responsible for both deaths. The families were awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $33.5 million ($52.3 million in 2018 dollars), but have received only a small portion of that monetary figure. In 2000, Simpson left California for Florida, one of the few states where one's assets like homes and pensions cannot be seized to cover liabilities that were incurred in other states.Serial killer
A serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, usually in service of abnormal psychological gratification, with the murders taking place over more than a month and including a significant period of time between them. Different authorities apply different criteria when designating serial killers. While most set a threshold of three murders, others extend it to four or lessen it to two. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines serial killing as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone".Although psychological gratification is the usual motive for serial killing, and most serial killings involve sexual contact with the victim, the FBI states that the motives of serial killers can include anger, thrill-seeking, financial gain, and attention seeking. The murders may be attempted or completed in a similar fashion. The victims may have something in common, for example, demographic profile, appearance, gender or race. A serial killer is neither a mass murderer, nor a spree killer, although there may be conceptual overlaps between serial killers and spree killers.Ted Bundy
Theodore Robert Bundy (born Theodore Robert Cowell; November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials, he confessed to 30 homicides that he committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. The true number of victims is unknown and possibly higher.
Many of Bundy's young female victims regarded him as handsome and charismatic, traits that he exploited to win their trust. He would typically approach them in public places, feigning injury or disability, or impersonating an authority figure, before overpowering and assaulting them in secluded locations. He sometimes revisited his secondary crime scenes, grooming and performing sexual acts with the decomposing corpses until putrefaction and destruction by wild animals made further interaction impossible. He decapitated at least 12 victims and kept some of the severed heads as mementos in his apartment. On a few occasions, he broke into dwellings at night and bludgeoned his victims as they slept.
In 1975, Bundy was jailed for the first time when he was incarcerated in Utah for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. He then became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in multiple states. Facing murder charges in Colorado, he engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in Florida in 1978. For the Florida homicides, he received three death sentences in two separate trials.
Bundy was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989. Biographer Ann Rule described Bundy as "a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human's pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after". He once called himself "the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you'll ever meet". Attorney Polly Nelson, a member of his last defense team, wrote he was "the very definition of heartless evil".
Types of crime
Note: Crimes vary by jurisdiction. Not all types are listed here.
|Against the person|
|Against public order|
|Against the state|