Baltimore Sun, December 2020
The year wasn’t even a week old when a stray bullet found an elderly woman outside her apartment in West Baltimore’s Franklin Square neighborhood. By the timeCarolyn McFadden, 73, died two weeks later, she wasthe fourth woman killed in the first 18 days of January.
Now, as 2020 comes to a close, what seemed to be a brutal but atypical run turned out to be an average month. So far this year, 48 women and girls have been slain, more by far than any other year in the city’s history and double the total of just three years ago, even though the overall number of killings is roughly the same. Most of the cases remain unsolved. Some of the increase is linked to domestic violence. More women have been implicated in committing violence, which may be another factor in the rise. Yet, overall, Baltimore police identified no specific trends to account for the increase.
“We have not gotten [any indication] that females are being targeted,” Baltimore Police Col. Sheree Briscoe, chief of investigations, said in an interview. “But the lack of regard the perpetrators have … they are not paying attention that there are children out here, there are women out here. They are just focused on killing, and oftentimes people are caught in the crosshairs of that violence.”
A look at the female victims this year underscores the randomness Briscoe noted. Theyinclude schoolchildren, mothers, the elderly and even babies. According to the FBI’s 2019 criminal justice report, a little more than 20% of homicide victims nationwide were women, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said about half those cases involved domestic violence.
James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University, said other big cities tend to have a higher percentage of women homicide victims than Baltimore. But many major cities have seen a drop in the percentage of women victims in recent years, while Baltimore’s has spiked, he said.