Patterns of homicide Houston: Texas, 1987

Daniel Patricio Perales, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The situational and interpersonal characteristics of homicides occurring in Houston, Texas, during 1987 were investigated. A total of 328 cases were ascertained from the linking of police computer data, medical examiner's records, and death certificate information. The medical examiner's records contained all of the ascertained cases. The comparability ratio between the medical examiner's records and police and vital statistic data was 1.03 and 0.966, respectively. Data inconsistencies were found between the three information sources on Spanish surname, age, race/ethnicity, external cause of death coding, alcohol and drug involvement, weapon/method used, and Hispanic immigration status. Recommendations for improving the quality of homicide information gathered and for linking homicide surveillance systems were made. Males constituted 82% of all victims. The age-adjusted homicide rate for Blacks was 31.1 per 100,000 population, for Hispanics 19.2, and for Anglos 5.4. Among males, Blacks had an age-adjusted rate of 54.5, Hispanics, 31.0, and Anglos 7.5. Among females, Blacks had an age-adjusted rate of 9.3, Hispanics 6.1, and Anglos 3.1. Black males, ages 25-34, had the highest homicide rate, at 96.5. Half of all homicides occurred in a residence. Among Hispanic males, homicides occurred most often in the street. Firearms were used to commit 64% of the homicides. Arguments preceded 58% of all cases. Nearly two-thirds of the victims knew their assailant. Only 15% of males compared to 62% of females were killed by a spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member. Blacks (93%) and Hispanics (88%) were more likely than Anglos (70%) to have been killed by persons of the same race/ethnicity. Nearly three-fourths of all Houston Hispanic homicide victims were foreign born. Alcohol was detected in 47% of the victims tested. Nearly one-third of those tested had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) greater than 100 mg%. Males (53%) were more likely than females (20%) to have positive BACs. Hispanic males (64%) were more likely to have detectable BACs than either Black (51%) or Anglo (44%) males. Illegal drugs were detected in 20% of the victims tested. One-fourth of the victims who tested positive for drugs had more than one drug in their system at death. The stimulant cocaine was the most commonly detected drug, comprising 53% of all illegal drugs identified. Recommendations for the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of homicide and for future homicide research are made.

Subject Area

Public health|Criminology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Perales, Daniel Patricio, "Patterns of homicide Houston: Texas, 1987" (1989). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9021997.