Murder-suicide in central Virginia: a descriptive epidemiologic study and empiric validation of the Hanzlick-Koponen typology

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1998 Sep;19(3):275-83. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199809000-00016.


An empiric validation of a proposed typology of murder-suicide events was carried out in the Central District of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia for two cohorts, 1980 to 1984 and 1990 to 1994; use of a single typology allows description of trends in these events over time, a unique aspect of this study. For both cohorts, a total of 53 successful events with 63 victims (116 total deaths) was evaluated. A significant shift in the characteristics of location, perpetrators, and victimology of such events between the two cohorts is demonstrated: events changed from urban, multiple victim events with a majority of white perpetrators to rural, dyadic events in which victims did not live with perpetrators, the majority of whom were black. The results are compared with published data, and the implications for use of this typology as a clinical evaluation tool for prevention are addressed in light of current domestic violence emphases in public health. Additionally, the need for prospective tracking of these events is reiterated and use of the Hanzlick-Koponen typology as the tool for such tracking is suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Virginia