Remaining puzzle #10: Why do men murder their pregnant wives/girlfriends?

Scott PetersonThere have seemingly been a spate of cases where a man has been convicted or suspected of murdering a wife or girlfriend pregnant with his genetic child.  Read More

Satoshi....greetings from a

Satoshi....greetings from a kindred academic EP. Perhaps some of the motivation to kill might be explained by the presence of cues that the putative "father" has been cuckolded and the child isn't actually his? Whether it is or not isn't the issue as EEA-relevant cues of cuckoldry may trigger the behavior regardless of actual paternity. Killing the child (and, usually, the woman) would "cut their losses" in the most efficient manner.

For once, Satoshi, the

For once, Satoshi, the answer to a psychological question may not lie in evoultionary psychology specifically, but in the killer's inner dynamics.

The EEA and the police

Pregnant wives and girlfriends place huge demands on males, and although emotions for protecting them would be selected, the selection pressures are just not absolute. Thus, males only very rarely would murder their wives and girlfriends.

Assuming that the demands placed on males by clinging and annoying wives during the EEA might hinder access to new, better females (from the males point of view), there may be, sadly, some selective pressure to murder.

The murders today, incidentally, are covered up and surreptitious and only discovered with modern policing and forensic tools. This leads me to suspect that males may have gotten away with ridding themselves of a perceived burden more frequently during the EEA, with minimal police followup.

Again, however, as we would expect, fortunately most men don't kill, or at worst, simply abandon unwanted wives and children instead of murdering them.

"Pregnant wives and

"Pregnant wives and girlfriends place huge demands on males, and although emotions for protecting them would be selected, the selection pressures are just not absolute. Thus, males only very rarely would murder their wives and girlfriends."

Women have to deal with the physical complications of pregnancy, and your saying pregnant women place huge demands on males? Ha! This doesn't make sense from an evolutionary prospective because the male evolutionary drive is to pass on his genes and not raise the offspring! Men have always had the option to have sex and run. If they are forced to pay child support in our modern society, that doesn't even compare to the "huge demand" put on women to do the bulk of the childcare whether or not the father of her child sticks around. In addition to this, most women are holding down a full time job and bringing in a paycheck, and they are still doing the bulk of the childcare as well.

"Assuming that the demands placed on males by clinging and annoying wives during the EEA might hinder access to new, better females (from the males point of view), there may be, sadly, some selective pressure to murder."

Oh, yes, those annoying and clinging females because men don't have the freedom to screw around like they want to. Why are those females "annoying and cinging"? Is it because they are too tired from doing the bulk of the childcare in order to ensure that a male's offspring survives to adulthood so that his genes are passed on, and these women want men to do their share? Women are the ones who don't have as much freedom as those annoying males.
Actually, this whole evolutionary thing is a load of crap, and the reason that men murder their pregnant wives and girlfriends is because they are simply selfish and evil men. It's as simple as that.

Not all convicitons are without error.

~~~The most notorious of these recent cases include Scott Peterson, who was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and their unborn child and was sentenced to death~~~

He was convicted by the media, not by any facts. The police spent 20,000 hours - and found one hair and some cement mess, nothing else. No evidence of murder was ever found. Most who believe Scott is guilty don't know what the evidence actually is and so misstate it. To save arguing it here, go look at
to see what the prosecution had - which was nonsense.
Then look at
to see what the real circumstantial evidence in this case actually proved.
18 items of evidence for fetal abduction.
Zero for uxoricide.

How about this?

Maybe it seems a bit simplistic, but I think there are a couple reasons this behavior could have evolved.

I'll just use Peterson as an example.

First, perhaps Peterson (or his genes more likely) believed on a deep level that he was selling himself short. If he had a child with this woman to whom he was married, the potential loss of resources would be dramatic and there would be no turning back. This, on the EEA was a major loss of attractiveness for a man. He obviously was not done trying to seem attractive to other females.

If he abandoned his wife there would be several consequences: loss of money through divorce (again making him less attractive to females), loss of social status amongst peers ("what kind of guy abandons his pregnant wife?"), and loss of romantic status with women. If a woman hears he left his pregnant wife, what would be the point of pursuing a relationship with him? This would greatly hinder his sexual exploits.

Murder is extreme, but as countless research has shown, the genetic fitness and success levels of males vary wildly throughout the animal kingdom. This has forced males to take calculated risks in order ensure the success of their genes.

Perhaps Peterson thought he was such a catch that he had a shot of having an affair with a woman (or women), impregnating her (or them), and never having to pay the consequences. He was just that hot. In his own mind.

So maybe in the end marriage and kids wasn't risky ENOUGH.

This is just spitballing here, but I do believe there is enough research in the EP field (yes, Buss included) to say we're not exactly stumped on this one.

Though there's always further to go.

Wrong assumptions

You are assuming facts not in evidence. It's not just that Scott Peterson was not proved guilty, it's not just that Scott Peterson was possibly innocent, the facts are overwhelming that it was impossible for him to commit this crime. Also, can you or anyone point to a single case in history where a man has abducted his own pregnant wife, kept her somewhere for over 2 months, cut her open while alive and ripped his own son out of her, wound up killing them both, dumped the bodies some weeks later and all while the police are following him 24/7 with all sorts of tracking devices? This was a totally ludicrous fairy tale and should have been laughed out of court. There's literally more chance we'll find WMDs - or flying unicorns - in Iraq.

This doesn't seem that

This doesn't seem that puzzling to me. Much less so than suicide.

If a man believes he is cuckolded and simply doesn't support the woman, he could lose his reputation (and further mating opportunities) for a variety of related reasons. We're talking about small groups of people in the EEA. The others in the group would likely put the clues together and realize the abandonment was the result of cuckoldry, especially if the real father picks up your support. This infidelity would result in a huge loss of status on your part. Realize that all the other eligible women in the group now see you as a joke. As do the men.

If you murder the pregnant wife (and/or the lover), you may get the reputation of a violent psycho (especially if others do not know or believe in the cause of your actions), but more times than not, this is probably preferable to the reputation of the humiliated cuckold. After all, a man that won't even defend himself, probably will not be able/willing to protect a *faitful* wife. And other men now see you as someone who can be exploited without consequence.

And what if the others don't suspect you abandoned the woman because of cuckoldry? Now she and the child either die, or other members of the group have to support them. You look cold or selfish. You lose status in the eyes of the group. And why would other women in the group now trust you as a mate? They'll suspect you'll abandon them as well.

murderous psychopathology

Maybe Scott Peterson unconsciously knew that he was a psychopath and so did not want to further his DNA line.

Maybe it's evolutions way of ridding itself of nonproductive humanity, and so the most efficient way of doing so would be to end a life before it began.

Just a thought, though I have no background what-so-ever in EP.

My husband left me when I was seven months pregnant

My husband left when I was seven months pregnant. I am in the military stationed in MS. He left to our hometown in CA with the intent that he would go job hunting and I would get out of the military. As days went by, whenever I called him, he always seemed too busy to talk to me. I eventually began to get upset. I had no family or any close friends at so it was natural that I would feel lonely while he was gone. Our son who was 18 months old was all I had. One night, I called him wanting to speak to him, he brushed me off telling me he was getting ready to go to bed so I became very upset and at that point, we had an argument. Two weeks later, he returned to MS telling me he wanted a divorce, he said he stopped loving me long ago. I was devastated and felt my world was falling apart. I asked if he was involved with somebody in CA and he said no. Throughout our marriage I supported him financially and we even traveled several countries in Europe since I had been stationed in Germany. I thought our marriage was going fine, yes maybe some arguments now and then like most marriages but apparently all along he was unhappy. My daughter was born and he did not return to see her be born. A couple of months later I found out he was leaving with my ex-best friend. He left in March 2008, Still he has not sent a dime for his children. I filed for child support in June 2008 but he has dragged it as long as he can. It's been almost a year and I have no idea how he could go to sleep at night knowing he is not providing for his children.