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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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

In many patriarchal cultures uxoricide is regarded less harshly than other forms of homicide, especially in cases of adultery. It may even be regarded as the correct, honourable thing to do. (See honour killing)

Uxoricide in fiction

  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, uxoricide is a central plot point.

Known or suspected uxoricides

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 charged with the murder of his wife, Nina Reiser.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Uxoricide" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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