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Sexual Homicide of Elderly Females: Linking Offender Characteristics to Victim and Crime Scene Attributes

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 17 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2002 Pages: 500-525
Mark E. Safarik; John P. Jarvis; Kathleen E. Nussbaum
Date Published
May 2002
26 pages
This study examined cases of elderly female sexual homicide to identify patterns in the behavioral aspects of the victims, offenders, their interactions within the context of the crime, and to link offender characteristics to victim and crime scene attributes.
The research literature available relative to the sexual assault of elderly females is scarce, but indicates that these victims are more likely to be injured or killed in comparison to other victims of similar crimes; the homicide of elderly females is generally a rare phenomenon. This study examined the characteristics of 128 elderly women who were murdered by 110 offenders and the characteristics of the attendant crime scenes. Data were collected and examined from two sources: the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) and the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). Examination of the data were collected in two stages: (1) descriptive information from the incidents was examined to depict the relative frequencies of specific victim, offender, and offense attributes and (2) research focused on four dependent variables -- race of offender, age of offender, relationship of victim to offender, and distance of offender’s residence from the victim’s residence. Results of the study reveal several points: (1) many aggregate demographic characteristics were similar; (2) 94 percent of the female violent crime victims were killed at home; (3) the offender was aware of where the victim lived, prior to the crime, and perceived her to be alone and vulnerable; (4) intraracial offending patterns by offenders appeared to be dependent on specific conditional case factors; (5) firearms were virtually never seen, but strangulation accounted for 63 percent of these victims’ deaths, and many victims suffered multiple, severe, and excessive injuries; (6) offenders were found to be consistent with the disorganized typology; and (7) chronologically, the majority of interaction with the victim occurred first with the removal of property occurring subsequent to the homicide. This study provided support contrary to the literature and suggests that the selection of these women was premeditated. The majority of the offenders had fully intended to sexually assault and murder these women prior to the initiation of the crime. Tables and references


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