Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Karen J. Terry

Subject Categories

Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice


child abduction, child abductors, crime pattern theory, rational choice theory, routine activities theory, spatial behavior


Despite the intense and prolonged public attention received when a child is abducted and killed, there are major gaps in the academic literature. One of the gaps pertains to the distances traveled by the offender between key crime locations. The overall aim of this study was to provide information concerning typical travel distances of offenders. This project utilized an archival data set compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. The database constructed for this project consisted of 72 victims who were abducted and murdered by 68 offenders. The date range for these offenses was 1970 - 2006. The research questions were addressed with t-tests for independent samples and multiple linear regressions. Three primary dependent variables under investigation in this study were (a) the distance between the offender's residence and the abduction site, (b) the distance between the abduction site and the disposal of the victim's remains, (c) the distance between the location of the body disposal site and the offender's residence. Additionally, a multitude of bivariate analyses were examined. The variables examined in various combinations using bivariate analyses were offender characteristics, victim characteristics, distance variables, and crime event variables.

Although findings were primarily insignificant, they contribute to the general literature regarding child abduction homicide offenses. While a number of studies have related child abduction/homicide to specific contexts, little research has been done relating child abduction to theoretical frameworks. This study explored routine activities theory, rational choice theory, and crime pattern theory as they relate to the geographical behavior of child abductors/murderers.