U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

How to Investigate Domestic Violence Homicide: A Guide for Investigating the Path Leading up to Domestic Violence Homicides for Friends, Activists, Journalists, and All Who Care

NCJ Number
Date Published
15 pages
This document presents information on how to investigate domestic violence homicide and is specifically intended for friends, activists, journalists, and anyone that cares.
Two compelling reasons for investigating domestic violence homicides are to tell the stories of these women’s lives and deaths, and to prevent it from happening again. Theses women’s murders have been preceded by gross failures of criminal justice officials to deal properly with the women’s earlier calls for help. Aggressive and thorough law enforcement response to domestic violence at the misdemeanor level is what saves women’s lives. It is suggested that two or three people work together during an investigation. The best order of doing things will be different in every investigation. Timing can be key to the amount of information obtained. The speed of the investigation depends on a number of factors, one of which is the suicide/homicide question. It is more difficult to obtain certain documents and reports if the perpetrator does not commit suicide because the investigation remains open for a longer period of time. It is important to keep an accurate record of dates, times, names, addresses, and contact information, and to share this information with all the partners in the investigation. Important sources of information include the crime reporter for the local paper, the county law librarian, criminal defense attorneys, law enforcement officials not connected with the case, and victim advocates. Many counties have formal domestic violence death review teams that may or may not be seeking the truth in most cases. Concerned individuals should be aware of intimidation tactics by public officials and find a way around them. Tips for interviewing both family members and law enforcement officials are given. Have as many relevant court files, police records, warrants, and other official records as possible. Places to get these records include the county courthouse, the coroner’s office, and the city and county clerk’s offices. All court hearings should be attended because sometimes information is given that is not readily available. Individuals can bring attention to the results of the investigation by notifying the media, using the Internet, and passing out leaflets.