Sexual murderers’ sexual lifestyle

An internal constraint to modus operandi?

Authored by: Stephanie Langevin , Jonathan James , Jean Proulx , Elen Vuidard

Routledge International Handbook of Sexual Homicide Studies

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415791489
eBook ISBN: 9781315212289
Adobe ISBN:


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The research focus on sexual behaviours during sexual crimes has masked the fact that sexual aggression is not the sole sexual behaviour of most sexual offenders, and that their sexual lifestyle could possibly influence the manner in which their sexual crime is committed. This study investigated the sexual lifestyle of French sexual murderers and its association with sexual behaviours committed during their homicides. Participants were 56 French males sentenced for a total of 66 sexual homicides. Homicides had to satisfy at least one of the six sexual homicide criteria proposed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to qualify as sexual homicides. Sexual lifestyle behaviours were either self-reported or reported by the spouse or ex-spouse. Sexual behaviours that occurred during the homicide were self-reported and assessed by experts (investigators, forensic pathologists). This study presents evidence that the sexual lifestyle of sexual murderers is heterogeneous. Two classes of sexual murderers (antisocial sadistic, antisocial non-sadistic) were identified based on their sexual lifestyle, which shaped their sexual homicides. Our results further suggest that sexual lifestyle may act as an internal constraint to modus operandi, especially for sexual murderers with an antisocial-sadistic sexual lifestyle. Thus, sexual murderers’ sexual lifestyle may be clinically relevant in the management of sexual murderers, and should be further investigated.

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