Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Louis B. Schlesinger

Second Reader

James S. Wulach

Third Advisor

Erin Williams


This exploratory study is intended to serve as a gateway to future research about the differences between sexual murderers with (HSAO) and without (N-HSAO) a recorded criminal history of sexual assault, on which there is little to no comparative literature. This study aims to extend our understanding of these groups by comparing their crime scene (and crime-related) behaviors and exploring their underlying psychological functioning. The results suggest that N-HSAO have a significantly higher tendency to murder friends or strangers, initially attack or abduct their victims from the victim’s residence, use more than one killing method in the murder, attack their victims in the context of allegedly consensual sex, and insert themselves to the investigation. Other behavioral trends suggest differences between the groups in criminal savviness, risk-taking, emotional reactions, sexual behaviors and preferences, and differences in the behavior of serial and non-serial offenders. Implications for our understanding of the underlying psychological makeup of these offenders, guidelines for criminal investigations, and directions for future research are discussed.



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