Uxoricide

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Uxoricide (from Latin uxor meaning "wife") is murder of one's wife. It can refer to the act itself or the person who carries it out.

Known or suspected examples[edit]

18th century illustration of Matthias Brinsden murdering his wife.
  • Cambyses II of Persia married two of his sisters and installed the younger as queen consort of Egypt. During his insanity, he murdered her for weeping for their brother Smerdis, whom Cambyses had murdered.
  • Ptolemy XI of Egypt had his wife and stepmother, Berenice III, murdered nineteen days after their wedding in 80 BC. Afterwards, Ptolemy was lynched by the citizens of Alexandria, with whom Berenice was very popular.
  • Herod the Great had his second wife, Mariamne I strangled for suspected adultery, though she was innocent of the charges. According to Josephus, regret over this act almost caused Herod to go insane.
  • Roman Emperor Tiberius probably had his second wife, Julia, starved to death in 14 AD, while she was in exile on Pandataria. Their marriage was unhappy, and he had been publicly embarrassed by her adultery years earlier. Her alleged paramour, Sempronius Gracchus, was executed around the same time on Tiberius’s orders.
  • Roman Emperor Nero ordered the death of his first wife, Octavia, soon after divorcing her in 62 AD. He also reportedly kicked his second wife, Poppaea Sabina, to death in 65 AD after an argument.
  • King Henry VIII of England had two of his six wives executed: Anne Boleyn on probably false charges of adultery, treason and incest, and Catherine Howard on the probably true charge of adultery.
  • George Forster murdered his wife and child by drowning them in Paddington Canal, London: he was hanged at Newgate on 18 January 1803.
  • Edward William Pritchard (1825-1865) was an English doctor who was convicted of murdering his wife and mother-in-law by poisoning. He was the last person to be publicly executed in Glasgow.
  • The Reverend John Selby Watson (1804-1884) was sentenced to death in 1872 for killing his wife, but a public outcry led to his sentence being reduced to life imprisonment. The case is notable for Watson's use of a plea of insanity as his defence.
  • William Henry Bury (1859-1889) was executed in Dundee, Scotland, for the murder of his wife Ellen in 1889. He was suspected by some of being Jack the Ripper.
  • Dr Crippen (1862-1910) was an American homeopathic physician hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, England, on 23 November 1910, for the murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta Crippen.
  • George Joseph Smith (1872-1915), the "Brides in the Bath Murderer", was convicted and subsequently hanged for drowning three women, all of whom he had trigamously married, between 1908 and 1914.
  • Herbert Rowse Armstrong (1869-1922), a solicitor in Hay-on-Wye, was hanged for the murder of his wife by arsenic poisoning.
  • Andrew Kehoe beat his wife to death before setting off explosives in the basement of the Bath Consolidated School, then taking his own life and others with a truck bomb, on May 18, 1927. The bombings killed 45, including the bomber. It is the worst act of mass murder at a school in United States history.
  • Dr Buck Ruxton (1899-1936) murdered and dismembered his wife in Lancaster, England in 1935.
  • John Reginald Halliday Christie (1899-1953), an English serial killer active in the 1940s and 1950s murdered at least seven women including his wife Ethel in his flat at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London.
  • Charles Whitman killed his mother and wife before going on his killing spree at the University of Texas at Austin that killed 14 people and wounded 31 others, as part of a shooting rampage from the observation deck of the University's 32-story administrative building on August 1, 1966. He was eventually shot and killed by Austin police.
  • John Emil List murdered his three children, mother and his wife on 9 November, 1971. He was a fugitive for 18 years. He was apprehended on 1 June, 1989 after an episode of "America's Most Wanted" was broadcast. On 1 May, 1990 he was sentenced to 5 life terms in prison.
  • Bradford Bishop murdered his three children, mother, and his wife in 1976. He was tried for homicide and sentenced in absentia, and has been the subject of TV shows such as America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. Bishop remains an international fugitive.
  • Philosopher Louis Althusser strangled his wife to death on 16 November 1980. He was not tried, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and was instead committed to a psychiatric hospital. He was discharged in 1983.
  • Actor Robert Blake was found not guilty of the 2001 murder of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, but was found liable for her wrongful death in a 2005 civil suit filed by her children from previous marriages.
  • Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife Laci Peterson in 2002. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005.
  • Mark Hacking murdered his pregnant wife Lori Hacking in 2004. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
  • Joe O'Reilly was convicted in 2007 of the murder of his wife Rachel at their home in Co. Dublin, Ireland, in October 2004. With the crime (Rachel O'Reilly had been bludgeoned to death with an exercise barbell) having been the focus of considerable national attention, an ostensibly grieving O'Reilly appeared (along with his mother-in-law) on an episode of the Late Late Show during the weeks that followed. It was not until some months later that police attention gradually began to focus on O'Reilly, with mobile phone records (he had claimed to have been at work, 30 miles away, at the time of his wife's death) eventually being used to secure his conviction. Not to be confused with Senator Joe O'Reilly, an Irish Fine Gael politician.
  • On 10 October, 2006, Hans Reiser was arrested and subsequently convicted of the murder of his wife, Nina Reiser.
  • On 21 April 1992, Jesse Anderson stabbed his wife, Barbara E. Anderson, thirty-seven times
  • On 20 January 2006, Neil Entwistle shot Rachel Entwistle in the head and then shot their daughter Lillian, who was lying on the bed next to her mother.
  • On 23 October 1989 Charles Stuart shot his pregnant wife in the head and shot himself in the abdomen, claiming to have been the victim of a carjacking.
  • Mark Winger was convicted in 2002 of murdering his wife, Donnah Winger in 1995.
  • O.J. Simpson was charged with the murder, on 12 June 1994, of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson. He was acquitted of all criminal charges but found liable of her battery in a civil court case in February 1997.

In fiction[edit]

  • On the television show American Dad!, the goldfish, Klaus, marries another bigger fish and has guppies with her, but out of annoyance of her bad habits (and eating their own guppies does not help), he kills her (the method for which was unseen) and asks to borrow Stan's shovel when he opts to bury her out in the Smiths' backyard.
  • In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica television series, Colonel Saul Tigh kills his wife, Ellen Tigh, after she betrays the New Caprica resistance movement to the Cylons.
  • In the famous fairy tale "Bluebeard", written by Charles Perrault, the title character kills two of his wives.
  • In the Agatha Christie novel Death on the Nile, Simon Doyle and his former fiancée Jacqueline plot to murder his wife, the wealthy Linnet.
  • Uxoricide is a key event in the horror-mystery film I Saw What You Did.
  • The death metal comedy series Metalocalypse features a flashback, in which William Murderface's father kills his wife with a chainsaw before turning it on himself.
  • In the Manhwa series Priest, Ivan Isaacs kills his love Genna after she becomes a still-intelligent zombie, an incident which drove him even more insane.
  • Uxoricide is a central plot point in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Hitchcock revisited the theme in Dial M for Murder, which in turn was remade in 1998 as A Perfect Murder.
  • William Shakespeare addressed uxoricide in multiple plays:
    • Posthumous attempts to kill his wife, Imogen, in Cymbeline, under the false belief that she had committed adultery.
    • The titular character in Othello murders his wife, Desdemona, for the same reason.
  • In Silent Hill 2, James Sunderland smothers his wife in an act of euthanasia after becoming fed up with her illness-induced mood swings.
  • In the film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd, in a passionate flurry of murder, accidentally kills his wife under the assumption that she was just a witness to his many other murders.
  • In the horror film The Stepfather, Henry Morrison murders his wife before assuming the identity of a real estate agent.
  • In the Italian art house film Dillinger Is Dead, the main protagonist, Glauco, a bored and alienated man, murders his wife before casually driving to the seaside.
  • In the sports drama He Got Game, Denzel Washington's character Jake Shuttlesworth accidentally kills his wife by pushing her while arguing with his son Jesus.
  • In The Sacrifice (Left 4 Dead), Zoey's dad kills his ex-wife because she got infected from green flu.
  • In the television series Once Upon a Time (TV Series) the character Rumplestiltskin murders his wife Milah after several years of estrangement.
  • In The Fugitive, Harrison Ford's character Dr. Richard Kimble is wrongfully accused of murdering his wife.

See also[edit]

References[edit]