Date of Award

Spring 1983

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The focus of this dissertation was patterns of criminal homicide in North Carolina between 1975 and 1977. Using Uniform Crime Report data between 1933 and 1979, North Carolina was compared to non-Southern and national time series trends. North Carolina's criminal homicide rate was shown to have decreased dramatically during the preceding four decades, although it continues to sustain a higher rate of criminal homicide than most non-Southern states.

In order to explore possible explanations for North Carolina's criminal homicide rate, structural variables were used to predict homicide in North Carolina's counties and county types. Although the structural predictors were not strong, a nonlinear pattern of homicide did emerge. The coastal plain agricultural and the dispersed urban counties were found to have significantly higher homicide rates than either the Piedmont industrial or recreational fringe counties.

Since the observed correlations between county homicide rates and structural variables were weak, North Carolina's homicide rate was disaggregated by age, gender, and race. Three age categories, 20-24, 25-34, and 35-44, were found to have the highest rates of homicide victimization, regardless of race or gender. In addition, males were found to be four times more likely to become homicide victims than females. The strongest finding was that black males, eleven percent of North Carolina's population, accounted for forty-six percent of North Carolina's homicide victimization.

In the next section, the relationship between the homicide victim and his or her assailant was established. Differences in the type of homicide, based on victim-offender relationships, were used to try to understand the previously discovered patterns and variations in North Carolina criminal homicide. Although the structural variable, county type, and race did not prove to be important, large differences were noted between gender and age groupings. Females tended to kill and be killed by family members, while males were more likely to slay and be slain by friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Regarding the age and type of homicide, primary contact homicide victimization was found to decrease as age increased, while offenders tended to commit less primary homicide in younger years but more during their latter years. Finally, conclusions are drawn and future research is delineated.