Madison, WI- A Madison man who tried to kill his wife in house fire last September was served with divorce papers.  What motivates people to murder their spouses instead of seeking a divorce?

In the Wisconsin case, Armin Wand III, along with his brother Jeremy, were motivated to set the fire for money, an insurance settlement that police later discovered didn’t even exist, according to WKBT LaCrosse.

Sharon Wand, who was pregnant with Armin’s child, was able to get herself and her two year old daughter out of the house before the blaze overcame them, but Sharon suffered serious injuries and lost her unborn child.

Armin’s three sons were killed in the fire. Now she has served him with divorce papers, which isn’t at all unexpected. Armin’s trial for multiple counts of homicide and arson begin next month.

This Wisconsin case is alarming, but by no means unusual.  At any given time of the day you can turn on your television and chose from a variety of crime dramas like reruns of Law and Order, or documentary shows, such as 48 Hours Mystery or Snapped, devoted to exploring the shadowy and morbid world of murder. Often in these murder cases, the spouse is the first suspect.

People have a morbid curiosity with why people commit murder. To most of us it unfathomable to take a person’s life, but many men and women chose to kill their spouse instead of pursue a divorce. The motivations vary.

If you read about or following many of these crime dramas you will notice a trend in the motives; spouses are motivated by jealousy, anger or money. And these murderers aren’t always hardened criminals with a history of violence, instead they are people who just snap, and are no longer able to master their emotions.

According to the National Institutes of health two-thirds of all women who are murdered are killed by their spouse, but it is not exclusive to men; women also murder their husbands. Each year several thousands of marriages are ended through homicide instead of the legal channel of divorce.

Also according to a NIH study, an overwhelming majority, 87 percent of these murders are committed by firearms with strangling as the second method of murder occurring in 4 percent of the incidents. Arson which was used in the Armin’s case is much more rare than stabbings or blunt force trauma.

Money is a strong motivator, jilted spouses who fear losing their wealth, homes or children to an ugly custody battle. The prospect of paying someone who caused immeasurable pain is more than some can bear.  Reaping the benefits of large life insurance policies also figure prominently in spousal homicide.  Prolonged pain or a sharp moment of anger makes them think that if their estranged spouse was dead all their problems would disappear. They rarely think about the consequences that will follow.

A long history of domestic violence  can also precede an incidents of spousal murder. Abusive relationships can be hard for women to get out of as their spouses force them to stay by threating bodily harm.

So called crimes of passion where jealousy and infidelity causes murderous rage are also likely motives in spousal murder.

Greed, anger and jealousy can drive people to commit unspeakable acts. It is nearly impossible for anyone, the spouse, family members or a divorce attorney working on a case to tell whether one spouse will be driven over the brink and take the life of the person they swore to love and protect.