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Cut to the Heart: Women Lead Men in City Stabbings

When it comes to stabbing people, Richmond women may have an edge — and men seem to be the biggest target.

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In 2010, 61 women were arrested for stabbing or cutting offenses, compared with 49 men arrested for the same crimes.

There were 201 stabbings or cuttings in the city in 2010, according to Richmond police. Of the stabbings in which the gender of the assailant was known, 73 were committed by women, 58 by men.

In four more stabbing cases, men and women ganged up on the victim. Though in 66 cases, the attacker's gender was unknown to police.

Men, watch out: Women were twice as likely to stab a man as another woman. There were 21 cases of women stabbing women and 52 cases of women stabbing men in 2010 in cases in which the gender of the assailant was known.

As a rule, men commit most violent crimes. But it's not unusual for women to use a knife in a domestic dispute, says Christopher G. Kopacki, a former Henrico County police detective who's a professor of criminal justice and coordinator of the forensic crime scene investigation program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

In a domestic dispute, Kopacki says, women tend to pick up what's at hand. “Males are the ones that are predominantly going to use firearms” in violent encounters, he says, because there's a better chance they already have access to them.

None of the stabbings by women in 2010 resulted in a homicide.

It's not so easy to kill someone with a steak knife, Kopacki says. “They're flimsy, they're cheap,” he says. The tip tends to snap off when it hits bone or cartilage. And if you really have murder on your mind, he says, “You're probably going to bring something more heavy-duty than a knife.”

Kopacki has seen one study, done in England, which suggests women are more likely to stab once and stop — whether it's to get away or to prove a point.

There are exceptions, of course. In Houston last year, Susan Wright was re-sentenced to 20 years — five less than she had originally been given — for stabbing her husband 193 times in 2003.

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