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Sexual Homicide: A Spatial Analysis of 25 Years of Deaths in Los Angeles

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 52 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2007 Pages: 1129-1141
Isaac T. Van Patten Ph.D.; Paul Q. Delhauer B.A.
Date Published
September 2007
13 pages
An analysis of sexual homicides from 1980 to 2004 in Los Angeles County (n=197) focused on the spatial geometry of these offenses and the impact of time and distance on case clearance.
The spatial geometry related to the homicide event provides a systematic method for analyzing the relationship between critical locations and the homicide. The simplest geometry occurs when the homicide happens in the place where the victim and offender live together. A "line" geometry occurs when the offender and victim live in separate places and the homicide takes place in either the offender's or the victim's residence. This requires that either the offender or the victim travel to the place where the homicide occurs. A "triangle" geometry occurs when both the victim and offender have traveled to the point where the homicide happens some distance from their residences. The more complex the spatial geometry of the homicide encounter, the more difficult the homicide investigation and the less likely that the case will be cleared. Regarding time frame, the longer the case remains unsolved, the more likely it will not be cleared. The closer a case comes to the 180-day mark without the development of substantial leads, the greater the need for the expansion of investigative resources. A multidisciplinary review and consultation not later than 60 days from case inception can be beneficial. The study's methodology involved an examination of the following for each case: offender and victim journey to the encounter site, journey to body disposal site, and offender journey after the crime. Both time factors and spatial geometry were analyzed with logistic regression models. 14 tables, 9 figures, and 34 references


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