What is a crime of passion? If you’ve ever seen a thriller movie or two in your time, or if you’ve dipped into the likes of Law and Order, Midsomer Murders and the like over the years, you probably already know the answer. Crimes of passion stem from deep feelings – love and lust, generally – and it’s a surprisingly prevalent phenomenon responsible for all kinds of despicable acts.
Crimes of passion are not just fictional plot twists. People, unfortunately, have been known to do all kinds of strange things for the sake of love and squandered passion. You don’t have to sit through Fatal Attraction to know that passionate crime really is a legitimate concern.
Here are a few fascinating facts about crimes of passion not ripped out of a pulp novel or from TV whodunnits – some of them are likely to surprise you.
Interestingly enough, the last woman to be executed in the UK was the perpetrator of a crime of passion, specifically, Ruth Ellis shot her lover and was hanged in 1955. She was also well-known for writing to the victim’s parents, claiming that she would ‘die loving him’.
Oddly, Peru saw a spate of passionate murders between 2003 and 2005. Specifically, statistics show that 75% of women murdered during that time were killed by their lovers, ex-lovers or partners. Infidelity, it seems, was a large driver for the cases.
One of the grisliest crimes of passion was the murder of a TV journalist in Portugal in 2006. Sitting comfortably? The 65-year-old victim was beaten and castrated by his boyfriend.
It’s thought that only 9% of women are killed by strangers. Statistics also show that crimes of passion largely target women more than men.
Bafflingly, it was legal in Brazil for a husband to kill his wife once upon a time – this was a law that was only repealed in 1991.
New Zealand has a worrying trend in murder cases, in that it seems as many as 60% of them arise from domestic violence cases. This, again, may largely back up statistics that women are more likely than men to fall victim to crimes of passion.
Statistics also show that of men who are murdered, only 5% are killed by their partners or lovers. This, again, correlates with female data mentioned above.
It’s thought that crimes of passion in New York City account for much of its large-scale homelessness. In fact, around 25% of all homeless cases are such a way due to these crimes, as well as domestic violence.
Perhaps the biggest unsolved crime of passion of all time revolves around that of Jack the Ripper. This infamous ‘legend’ revolves around a serious of heinous crimes which resulted in the murders of five women in London. Very little will ever be known about the true nature of these murders, and the perpetrator’s acts were so brutal that no leads could be found at the time.
In fact, many experts refer to Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror as being a crime of passion fuelled by morbid fascination. Of course, we will never know for sure. The Jack the Ripper story has been retold and twisted many times across works of fiction over the years.
There have been some truly bizarre crimes of passion in recent times. One of the most bizarre murders actually took place in mid-air. Specifically, in 2006, a Belgian woman fell to her death while skydiving. Her parachute had been tampered with by a younger woman in her skydiving club – the two women had been seeing the same man, also in the club.
The idea of a crime of passion at all dates back to around 1859, as it was during a case involving a man killing another for having an affair with his wife that it was determined the killer was temporarily blinded by a passionate rage. In fact ‘temporary insanity’ was used as a line of defense in the case. The murderer in question, Daniel Sickles, a congressman, was eventually acquitted. Thus, it seems, started the whole concept of killing while blinded by love, jealousy, and lust.
Do you know any interesting crimes of passion? Share them in the comments below!