North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

N.C. OCME Annual Report 1992

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Chapter 4: Homicides

Although homicides represent only 10 percent of all medical examiner cases, their identification and investigation is one of the more important contributions that the system provides the state. In some instances it is only the medical examiner's investigation that uncovers a homicide in what might otherwise have seemed an unsuspicious death. Just as important, it may exonerate the innocent when what initially appears to be a suspicious death proves to be otherwise. The information uncovered at autopsy is often critical in the authorities' investigation and essential for the successful prosecution of the case.

Figure 3
1992 Medical Examiner Cases by Means of Death

Figure 3 shows that firearms account for two-thirds of all homicides, more than one-half of these are handguns. Most of the guns not otherwise specified (NOS) are also handguns. Figure 4 breaks down homicides by means and alcohol levels. Victims killed by rifles and sharp instruments were most likely to have alcohol in their system, but alcohol was clearly involved in a significant number of all homicides.

Figure 4
1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Means and Alcohol Level

Table 7: 1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)

  White Nonwhite Total
Male 9.3 49.5 18.7
Female 3.4 13.4 5.9
Total 6.3 30.4 12.1

Homicide death rates by race and sex are shown in Table 7. The homicide rate for nonwhite males, as shown in Figure 5, was five times the rate for white males. Nonwhite females showed similar disproportionate victimization compared to their white counterparts. Percentages of alcohol use for each race-sex group are shown in Figure 6; alcohol intoxication was most common in male homicide victims. Figure 5 also shows that most of the homicide mortality in nonwhites is between ages 15-44 years.

Figure 5
1992 Medical Examiner Homidice Death Rates by Race and Age Group

Figure 6
1992 Medical Examiner Homidice Death Rates by Race-Sex Group and Alcohol Level
*Total number tested for alcohol

Homicide death rates by age and the percentages of alcohol use for each age group are shown in Figures 7 and 8 respectively. The age group 15-24 had the highest homicide rate, while age group 35-44 had the highest percent of alcohol intoxication.

Figure 7
1991/1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Death Rates by Age Group

Figure 8
1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Age Group and Alcohol Level

Homicides by hour of injury are shown in Figure 9. It can be seen that the hours around and including midnight had the highest frequency of homicides.

Figure 9
1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Hour of Injury

Figure 10 shows that the highest frequency of homicides occurred on weekends. (The day is defined as beginning at 6 a.m. rather than midnight because activities in the early morning hours are usually continuing from the preceding day.) The peak months for homicides are usually summer though 1992 showed a peak in October as well (Figure 11).

Figure 10
1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Day of Injury
*Day runs from 6:00am -5:59 am

Figure 11
1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Month of Injury

Last Modified: May 20, 2019