Sharp Force Homicide in Denmark 1992-2016

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DOI

  • Asser H Thomsen
  • Hans Petter Hougen, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederik V's vej 11, 2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Palle Villesen
  • Ole Brink
  • Peter M Leth, Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws vej 17, 5000 Odense C, Denmark.

Sharp force trauma is a common homicide method. The weapon is typically a knife, which is easily accessible and does not require special skills. We have analyzed all 471 sharp force homicides in Denmark during 1992-2016 with special focus on aspects that are relevant to forensic pathologists, including the distribution of wounds and organ injuries. Most homicides were committed inside with a kitchen knife. The front left thorax was the most common area to be affected by sharp force trauma. In 18.9% of the victims, there was only one sharp injury, the majority on the thorax. The most common trajectory for stab wounds was directly posterior with no deviation to the sides or up/down followed by directly anterior. The heart (including pericardium) and lungs (including hemo- and pneumothorax) had injuries in more than 75% of the victims. 67% of victims were males. Female victims had more sharp force injuries and defense wounds than male victims. Most females were killed in domestic homicides (73.7%), most commonly in partner killings (56.4%). In contrast, many male victims were killed in a setting of nightlife/intoxication (34.0%) most by a friend/acquaintance delivering a few stab wounds. The results clearly show strong sex differences in both victims and offenders. This could be useful for shaping policies and public opinion, and as a route for understanding the developments in interpersonal violence. In the narrow setting of death investigation, our results will provide an evidence-based approach to understanding the injury patterns in sharp force homicide.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Volume65
Issue3
Pages (from-to)833-839
Number of pages7
ISSN0022-1198
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • forensic autopsy, forensic pathology, homicide, interpersonal violence, knife violence, sharp force injuries

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