Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

C. Gabrielle Salfati

Second Reader

Cynthia Calkins

Third Advisor

Martin McElhiney


Offender profiling research suggests that offenders may display behavioral consistency, meaning they may behave in some consistent manner between their crime scene actions and other aspects of their lives. Through behavioral themes, researchers can identify consistency in groups of individual behaviors that are thematically similar. Previous literature successfully applied the Expressive/Instrumental themes to homicide crime scene behaviors and criminal history. The current study aims to apply the Expressive/Instrumental thematic approach to analyzing the relationship between sexual homicide offender’s criminal history and their crime scene behaviors. The present study focuses on the distinction between sexual homicide offenders with a history of sexual crime and without a history of sexual crime, testing for thematic consistency from criminal history to crime scene behaviors. The current study examines 73 single cases of sexual homicide, involving only offenders who have a recorded criminal history. The current study found a thematic split of Expressive/Instrumental themes and relationships between type of offender and behavioral themes in both criminal history and crime scene behaviors. Thematic consistency was not identified in the majority of offenders and did not differ based on history of sexual crime, as most offenders had a dominant expressive crime scene regardless of history of sexual crime. These findings indicate that while sexual homicide offenders with and without histories of sexual crime may behave thematically different in their criminal history and crime scene behaviors, the overall expressive themes of their crime scene make identifying thematic consistency difficult utilizing the expressive/instrumental thematic framework.



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