DENVER – Colorado experienced nearly 100 domestic violence deaths in 2021, the “greatest number of domestic violence fatalities” since the state’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board first stated counting such deaths, according to findings released by the board Friday.
Ninety-one people died during a domestic violence dispute in 2021 – that’s a 44% increase from 2020, when 63 people died following domestic violence disputes. The numbers are even more staggering when compared to figures before 2019.
“This was the highest number of domestic violence fatalities in Colorado” since the board was created in 2016, a spokesperson with the office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who chairs the board, said in a statement accompanying the report.
At least 45 of those who died were victims killed by their intimate partners, 14 were collateral victims, and 32 were perpetrators. Of the collateral victims, four were children.
The board found victims were overwhelmingly women, making up 88% of domestic violence victims, while perpetrators were overwhelmingly men (90%).
More than half of all domestic violence deaths involved couples who were currently or formerly dating (52%), while nearly half of cases involved couples who were currently or formerly married (48%), according to the report.
The report also found most domestic violence deaths were perpetrated with a gun, but 8.6% occurred by strangling, 6.9% of deaths were the result of stabbing while the rest 3.4% of deaths occurred in another manner, such as a car crash or through blunt force with an object.
“In 2021, the Colorado DVF case with the most fatalities in a single incident in the last six years (when the Board began collecting data) occurred – seven individuals died when the DVF perpetrator killed his girlfriend and five of her family members in Colorado Springs and then killed himself,” the report states.
The 2021 report also found incidences of domestic violence deaths were highest outside densely populated areas, with rural counties reporting high rates of domestic violence fatalities when controlling for population size.
Gilpin, Baca, Routt, Montezuma, Eagle, Mesa and Weld counties reported the highest number of domestic violence deaths per 100,000 people in 2021. That doesn’t mean domestic violence deaths didn’t occur in urban areas, however, as Denver and El Paso counties also reported high rates of domestic violence deaths in 2021.
“We must continue to act decisively to reduce the number of people killed due to domestic violence,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Expanding domestic violence training opportunities for judicial officers, limiting domestic violence perpetrators’ access to guns, investing in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that improve the response to domestic violence statewide were among the recommendations issued by the board.