CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"A window on the world of homicidal poisoners"

From an op-ed in the L.A. Times:

So, what do we know about poisoners? Most of them believe that careful planning will allow them to escape detection. We also know — or think we do — that "poison is a woman's weapon." That's a direct quote from the 1945 Sherlock Holmes movie "Pursuit to Algiers," and it's a familiar literary trope. In George Martin's "Game of Thrones," for example, poison is described as the choice of cravens, eunuchs and women. But in fact, most poisoners are men.

The Department of Justice's report on homicide trends in the United States (1980 to 2008) shows that, of all poisoning killers during that period, 60.5% were male and 39.5% were female. As psychologist Joni Johnston noted in Psychology Today last year: "Contrary to popular belief, the majority of convicted poisoners are men, overwhelmingly so when the victim is a woman. When the victim is a man, the poisoner is equally likely to be male or female."

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