Untangling sexual homicide: A proposal for a new classification of sexually motivated killings

Ewa Stefanska, Nicholas Longpre, Sinead Bloomfield, Derek Perkins, Adam Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The study aimed to develop an empirically driven checklist guiding clinicians in the decision-making process that would enable them to determine the functional role of the killing in a newly proposed classification of sexual homicides.

Methods: Classical Test Theory, Exploratory Factor Analyses and Two-parameter item response theory were conducted on a sample of 361 male sexual killers assigned as either belonging to the direct or indirect group.

Results: The results revealed that an eight-item checklist was the best empirical solution. The items included: sexual sadism; followed by the use of sexually related disinhibitors; stalking behaviours; the use of restraints; the presence post-mortem sexual activity; the presence of other sexual activities; an unusual interest following the murder; and the presence of biting were indicative of a direct sexual homicide.

Conclusions: Using the direct/indirect typology automatically directs clinicians to consider how, and at what point in the timeline, the sexual element and the act of killing were related. This, allows to address any arising inconsistencies as well as minimise the risk of either assuming sexual motives in the killing in the indirect cases or not addressing management of sexual urges in the context of extreme violence for the direct cases.

© 2020, Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. The attached document (embargoed until 22/09/2022) is an author produced version of a paper published in JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101729
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2020

Cite this