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Why husbands kill their wives

June 26, 2009
Daily Press

Is murder becoming a divorce substitute? It seems that men murdering their spouses has become more rampant or is it just more sensationalized and followed blow by blow on news magazine shows and Larry King Live because it is so bizarre? God forbid that men murdering their partner become so commonplace it isn't news anymore. The public is shocked beyond belief but yet find the heinous acts titillating

Till "Death do us Part" seems to have taken on a new meaning. One of the most notorious cases in recent history that riveted the country was the televised court proceedings of O.J. Simpson. Another case that captured the American people was Scott Peterson killing his beautiful pregnant wife, Laci.

Too close to home was Tom Richardson, the husband that pushed his wife over the spectacular cliff at the Pictured Rocks in Munising; The Tara Grant case: Tara, born in the UP was murdered by her husband who cut up her body into pieces in Lower Michigan. The 1988 Escanaba case of Vincent Loonsfoot who murdered his estranged wife and children.

I remember an Escanaba case in the 40s when the wife gassed herself by putting her head in the oven. She was depressed over her husband's blatant affair. Surely he killed her by taking away her will to live.

Seventy-five percent of domestic homicides occur just after or during abandonment. Often the wife has a restraining order at the time of the murder.

New cases present constantly-the reasons never cease-but are just as heinous and bizarre. Most recently the alleged case of Christopher Coleman killing both his wife, Sherry, and their two boys by strangulation is just beyond the pale.

Fact Box

EDITOR'S NOTE - Patt Abrahamson, Escanaba, is a freelance writer and author of "Through the Years." Abrahamson has a degree in social work. She may be reached at

Then there is the case of Drew Peterson now in jail for the alleged murder of his third wife. He is also a suspect in the disappearance of wife number four who has gone missing. His televised arrogance has made him a hated man.

The first time I ever heard of a shocking murder was in the 1950s while living in Chicago. Vincent Ciocchi shot his wife and five children; then burned their house down to cover his crime for the affections of 20 year-old Carol Amora.

Most of those cited cases were about husbands who were having affairs. But reasons to shed their wives are many and varied. Sex, philandering, money (either insurance or an unwillingness to split assets) and jealousy are just a few of the motives.

More dads are taking out their entire families. They don't want to split their money and possessions; nor do they want to pay child support; as in the case of Scott Peterson. What kind of a man could strangle his children in their beds or burn the house down to get rid of them? On the other side of the coin some dads kill their wives over custody battles. And of course there is the crime of passion-or rage-that is not-premeditated.

The convicted murderers are incarcerated for life or waiting on death-row. Isn't it interesting that none of them are guilty according to them. They spend their days working on appeals and trying to find loop-holes in the law.

Even more bizarre are the crazy women that write to convicted murderers and want to marry them-in jail. What makes them tick? It's a crazy mixed-up dangerous world if you stop and think about it.

Women are not only victims of domestic violence; but are stalked and prey to the crazies. They just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In urban areas just going out jogging can be dangerous.

Men hire a surrogate to kill. Other men will kill for as little as $1,000. Hiding and mutilating the bodies happens more often than you can imagine. For years it was thought: no body, no conviction. Circumstantial evidence is more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Today, with DNA and the sophistication regarding forensic evidence, there are many more convictions. I remember an Escanaba case where a woman's body washed up, I believe, in the area of the municipal dock. Her purse was found on land. She had been seen in local bars the night before her purse was discovered. Murder or suicide? We'll never know. In the late 40s police and detectives weren't sophisticated enough. As I remember, people that should have been questioned were not. A person could probably get away with murder much more easily back then.

When you think about it: Two people meet, fall in love and join in the sacrament of matrimony; they promise to love and honor one another. How could those attending the wedding ever imagine the union would end up in murder?

Over time, day to day life gets in the way. But how could a man who once professed undying love for his wife end up eventually taking her life and quite often leaving his children motherless. And yet have the audacity to think he can get away with murder?

Most of us will never understand how such a beautiful beginning can have such a tragic ending. After all, divorce is an option.



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