The death of Laci Peterson points to a disturbing phenomenon well known to police, health advocates and experts on battered women: homicide is not an uncommon cause of death for pregnant women.
Phyllis Sharps is an associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University´s school of nursing who researches violence against women. She says pregnancy is not always a happy time for families. In some cases, a woman has been abused for years, and the violence escalates after she´s pregnant. In others, pregnancy sparks new emotions that can lead to killing.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show that in 2000, the most recent data available, more than a third of the women who were murdered were killed by an intimate partner.