Canter, David V. (2004) An empirical test of Holmes and Holmes serial murder typology. Criminal justice and Behavior, 31 (4). pp. 489-515. ISSN 1552-3594

This article presents the results of an empirical test of Holmes and Holmes’s serial murder classification scheme. Crime scene evidence from 100 U.S. serial murders, each the third in a distinct series, was content analyzed. The co-occurrence of content categories derived from the crime scene material was submitted to smallest space analysis. The features characteristic of the category of “power or control” killings were found to be typical of the sample as a whole, occurring in more than 50% of cases, and thus did not form a distinct type. Limited support was found for aspects of the lust, thrill, and mission styles of killing, but this support drew attention to differences in the ways victims were dealt with, through mutilation, restraints, or ransacking their property rather than the motivations implicitly inferred in Holmes and Holmes’s typology. The current results are presented as an empirical basis for the classification of serial killings on which more detailed models can be built

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