Although psychopathic serial killers and bizarre murder plots feature heavily in Hollywood films, they are relatively uncommon in real life.
And while there are indeed many unsolved murders in Australia, most killings are committed by those who are known to the deceased and solved relatively quickly.
Read on as we separate fact from fiction when it comes to homicide in Australia.
Homicide Rate in Australia
With so much sensationalist media reporting about violent crime in Australia, you might think murder rates are on the rise.
But in fact, homicides rates have steadily declined since the early 2000s. There is an average of 250 murders in Australia each year, which amounts to 1.1 homicides per 100,000 people. By comparison, the rate in the US is 4.7 per 100,000.
In general, men are more likely to be both the targets and perpetrators of murder, and most killers are aged between 25 and 34.
Unsolved homicides are rare – the Queensland Deputy Commissioner reported a ‘record high’ of unsolved murders in 2013 when they had twelve on their hands.
Intimate Partner Homicides
The most likely killer is the deceased’s partner; which includes spouses, de facto partners, girlfriends/boyfriends, and ex-partners – with 23% of all homicide victims having in a relationship with their killer.
Research by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) found that 41% of homicides were classified as domestic – meaning they were committed either by partners, parents, children, siblings or other relatives.
Of these homicides, partners were the most likely perpetrators, committing 56% of all family and domestic killings, followed by children at 21%.
Children killed their parent/s in 12% of domestic murder cases, while they killed another sibling in just 3% of cases.
When it came to intimate partner homicides, men were the killers in 75% of cases.
When Do Murders Happen?
According to the AIC, murders are most likely to occur in the summer (30%), equally likely to occur in autumn and spring (24% for both) and least likely to take place in winter, with murders in the cold months accounting for just 21%.
Saturday and Sunday are the common days of the week for murder (18% and 19% respectively). Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are the least likely, each sitting on 11%. But interestingly, these statistics differ for murders committed by family members, where Monday and Tuesday are the days with the highest rates of murder.
Methods of Murder
The AIC found the most common causes of death in murder cases to be:
- Stabbing (34%)
- Beating (30%)
- Shooting (16%)
Other less common causes include: strangling or suffocating, drug overdoses, poisoning and burning.