Elder homicide: a 20-year study

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2006 Jun;27(2):183-7. doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000203268.30433.01.


A subcategory of elder maltreatment is the fatal outcome, or elder homicide. Some cases of elder homicide result from chronic abuse and/or neglect, while others appear to be sudden, with no pertinent history. The research and literature of elder homicide are lacking, making the investigation of each case difficult; the typical victim, perpetrator, scenario, and cause of death are not known. Components of homicide such as sexual assault and toxicology also lack study. We analyzed all elder deaths over a 20-year period. Cases included those with victims greater than or equal to 65 years of age. These deaths totaled 2137: natural = 1506, accident = 344, suicide = 139, homicide = 127, and undetermined = 21. Focusing on homicides, variables analyzed were age, race, gender, cause of death, location of death, time of year, motive, perpetrator, toxicology, and sexual assault component. By identifying the typical victim, perpetrator, scenario, and autopsy findings, these cases can be more completely investigated and possibly prevented.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / analysis
  • Crime Victims
  • Ethanol / analysis
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • South Carolina / epidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol