Monday, February 11, 2019

Detecting a Decline in Serial Homicide: The past decade had almost half the cases (13%) that existed at the 1980s peak of serial homicide (27%)

Yaksic, Enzo, Clare Allely, Raneesha De Silva, Melissa Smith-Inglis, Daniel Konikoff, Kori Ryan, Dan Gordon, et al. 2019. “Detecting a Decline in Serial Homicide: Have We Banished the Devil from the Details?.” SocArXiv. February 11. doi:10.31235/


Objectives: The likelihood that serial murderers are responsible for most unresolved homicides and missing persons was examined by investigating the accounting of the phenomenon in the context of a declining prevalence.
Methods: A mixed methods approach was used, consisting of a review of a sample of unresolved homicides, a comparative analysis of the frequency of known serial homicide series and unresolved serial homicide series, and semi-structured interviews of experts.
Results: The past decade contained almost half the cases (13%) that existed at the 1980s peak of serial homicide (27%). Only 282 (1.3%) strangled females made up the 22,444 unresolved homicides reviewed. Most expert respondents thought it unreasonable that any meaningful proportion of missing persons cases are victims of serial homicide.
Conclusions: Technology, shifts in offending behavior, proactive law enforcement action, and vigilance of society have transformed serial killing and aids in viewing offenders as people impacted by societal shifts and cultural norms. The absence of narrative details inhibited some aspects of the review. An exhaustive list of known unresolved serial homicide series remained elusive as some missing persons are never reported. Future research should incorporate those intending to murder serially, but whose efforts were stalled by arrest, imprisonment, or death.

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