Men who kill their partners follow a “homicide timeline” that could be tracked by police to help prevent deaths, new research suggests.
Criminology expert Dr Jane Monckton Smith found an eight-stage pattern in 372 killings in the UK.
The University of Gloucestershire lecturer said controlling behaviour could be a key indicator of someone’s potential to kill their partner.
One murder victim’s father said the findings could help to “save lives”.
About 30,000 women across the world were killed by current or former partners in 2017 .
Dr Monckton Smith said women account for more than 80% of victims killed by their partners – and most of the time, the partner is male.
To conduct her study, she looked at all cases on the Counting Dead Women website where the woman had had a relationship with the perpetrator – as well as several extra cases such as those of male victims killed by their male partners.
The eight steps she discovered in almost all of the 372 killings she studied were:
- A pre-relationship history of stalking or abuse by the perpetrator
- The romance developing quickly into a serious relationship
- The relationship becoming dominated by coercive control
- A trigger to threaten the perpetrator’s control – for example, the relationship ends or the perpetrator gets into financial difficulty
- Escalation – an increase in the intensity or frequency of the partner’s control tactics, such as by stalking or threatening suicide
- The perpetrator has a change in thinking – choosing to move on, either through revenge or by homicide
- Planning – the perpetrator might buy weapons or seek opportunities to get the victim alone
- Homicide – the perpetrator kills his or her partner, and possibly hurts others such as the victim’s children
The only instance where a stage in the model was not followed was when men did not meet stage one – but this was normally because they had not had a relationship before, she said.
“We’ve been relying on the ‘crime of passion, spontaneous red-mist’ explanation [of killing] forever – and it’s just not true,” Dr Monckton Smith told the BBC.
“If you start looking at all these cases, there’s planning, determination, there’s always coercive control.”
Alice Ruggles, 24, had been stalked by her ex-boyfriend, soldier Trimaan Dhillon, after their intense relationship ended.
Dhillon killed Miss Ruggles after breaking into her Gateshead flat in October 2016.
Her father, Clive Ruggles, said the outcome of the case “absolutely” could have been different if police had known about Dr Monckton Smith’s eight-stage model.
“He had a history of stalking and controlling – the warning signs were there,” Mr Ruggles said.
A domestic homicide review concluded Army officials had failed to record a previous domestic assault charge against Dhillon in Kent.